Tag Archives: business model

Moving to Plan B: BIM and the Startup Mentality

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

When’s the last time you looked at your business or practice through a fresh pair of eyes?

If the same old way of doing things – Plan A – is not working for you, consider relooking at how you’re going about it.

By working for you I mean:

Is the way you’re doing things today bringing in the bucks, sustainable, competitive, and nurturing to your staff, providing growth opportunities for your firm as well as growth-promoting opportunities for employees?

If you said no to any of these, there’s another way to go about business.

And the time is ripe for you to consider it.

Consider exploring Plan B.

B as in BIM

Christopher Parsons, founder of Knowledge Architecture, a knowledge management and information systems consultancy based in San Francisco, gets the credit for this one.

It’s a gem.

In a comment for a previous post on business model generation and BIM he wrote:

I believe that architects need to return to startup mentality — starting by conducting the search for the new “scalable, repeatable business model.”

That’s huge.

That’s it.

Just imagine.

It’s a new way of looking at your architectural practice.

As though it were a startup like SHoP or LTL Architects or any of the other fresh new faces that have been around for years, in some cases decades, and we’ve only recently started to pay close attention to.

Every business of course has its own variables. What works great for one may not work for yours.

But the great thing is you don’t actually have to open a design and production boutique under your considerable roof.

You only have to start thinking like one.

The Lowdown on Startups

What were you doing when these 8 practices startedup? What was the economy doing at the time these 8 firms were established?

  • Front, 2002
  • Gehry Technologies, 2002
  • Chris Hoxie, 2007
  • Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis Architects, 1997
  • MY Studio, 2001
  • nARCHITECTS, 1999
  • SHoP, 1996 and
  • George Yu Architects, 1992

You were probably doing business as usual.

How was business for you in 1992? What results did you see in 2002?

Startup Commonalities

What these organizations share:

  • a common denominator in technology’s application to architectural practice, especially the use of BIM
  • a shared commitment to experimentation and learning-by-doing
  • a pragmatic, “roll-up-your-sleeves” approach
  • a belief that process matters as much as product
  • seek opportunities to redefine the role of craft in architectural practice
  • open to not resembling a traditional architectural firm
  • can be seen as architecture firms of the near future
  • technology and its incorporation into design and practice plays a large role
  • an openness to alternative approaches to building design and production, including research, diversity of work and other approaches
  • the design work itself can differ radically from one from to another and is not dependent upon the approach

Read more about these emerging firms here.

Again, you don’t have to become one of these nimble startups.

You just have to start to think like one of the more creative firms in the industry.

It’s not an either-or but a what-if proposition.

What do you have to lose?

Startup Mentality

We’re still hesitant to consider our businesses as startups after the quick assent and burn-out of the dot.com bust a decade ago.

Startups are agile – most large firms would like to be more like small firms because they are flexible and nimble – as opposed to intrepid behemoths.

Again, we’re not suggesting launching a new venture in this economic climate, but launching a new vision for your business.

The mentality in this post’s title.

What is a mentality?

It’s a mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations

A mindset – a way of thinking, one’s view and outlook.

So what’s a startup mentality?

Beginner’s Mind

It’s about thinking like a beginner.

Having an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions.

Even when you’ve been practicing at an advanced level for years.

Just as a beginner would.

It’s a mentality that’s innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgments and prejudices.

And it’s about thinking like an entrepreneur.

Without projecting your worries and concerns onto your situation.

Remember how fearless you were in school or early in your career?

That was probably due less to your mental make-up than to the fact that you didn’t know better.

Today you do know better – and your knowledge and awareness are inhibiting your thinking, your willingness and ability to see your practice in a different light.

It’s about having the ability to step back and see opportunities that may have been lying dormant.

It’s about setting a direction for your employees – giving them a why but not dictating the means and methods of how to get there.

It’s about doing scenario planning – projecting your new idea into the future – and seeing what might result from it.

This is what architects do after all.

You are already exceptionally talented at this.

You spend all day applying this ability to your client’s situation.

Try for a change applying it to your own situation and circumstance.

Consider this a design assignment like any other.

Questions

  • Are there business models that you’ve seen succeed for other industries that you might consider for your own organization? The Long tail? Offering “free” services? Minor trust-based adjustments of existing team collaborations around agent CM formats in which the owner and team are long-time collaborators?
  • In you firm, can you take an agile, flexible and nimble attitude and approach to innovation?
  • Within your firm, how would you go about proposing a startup mentality?
  • How are you going to monetize the enhanced uses of BIM and its add-ons within your practice?
  • How aware are you of how others have started to go about doing this?
  • Are you willing to conduct a search for a new scalable, repeatable business model for your organization?
  • How are you going to convince owners of the increased value that you are bringing to the table? And that you ought to be remunerated for this increase in effort and improved results?

and

  • Are you convinced?

How are you going to convince others of your deliverable’s considerable value and worth if you  are not yet on board?

Start by reading the book, Getting to Plan B, about the process of discovering a business model that works, with the assumption that your initial plan is most often wrong.

In other words:

Don’t reinvent the wheel, make it better.

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Filed under BIM, BIM organizations, craft, process

What’s Your BIM (BusIness Model) Done 4 U Lately?

It’s time for you and your organization to rethink your business strategy.

This post will introduce a fascinating, far-reaching and beautifully designed book that will challenge the way that you create value for your clients and think about how you approach Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Design.

Changing times and the harsh new realities of doing business in the AEC industry requires all of us to get innovative.

BIM especially requires design professionals to be as creative in their business strategy as they are in the design of buildings.

Do you know for certain how you can get the most value for the work you are undertaking?

A refresher on the BIM Business Model

Obsolete AEC business models are being replaced by those driven by BIM and the collaborative work process enabled by the technology.

For a quick refresher on the current (old) AEC Business Model, turn here, the Introduction to the BIM Handbook.

There are of course several BIM business models – determined by what phases you work in and the chosen delivery method.

As Joseph Joseph presented at AU in 2009, “Companies often make the mistake of embracing Building Information Modeling (BIM) as yet another technology and tool. BIM is a complete process solution that integrates within an organization structure. BIM is a business decision that pushes the envelope and moves companies in the AEC industry out of their comfort zone to explore new ways of writing proposals, budgeting, staffing, and billing jobs in a revamped approach.”

Here’s a free 19 page handout from his presentation.

Another author with the initials JJ offers a number of BIM business strategies noting that “BIM can be used at different levels to suit a firm’s business model and client needs. No matter how far you go with the technology, you can recognize benefits by addressing its capabilities and risks in both business strategy and organizational culture.”

You can find James Jonassen’s excellent article here at DesignIntelligence covering the following BIM business strategies:

• BIM through design only
• BIM through construction only
• BIM in design-build
• BIM in integrated project delivery
• BIM in enterprise/project integration

You might recall Jonassen is the author of AIA’s seminal Changing Business Models in BIM-Driven Integrated Practice, here included in the Report on Integrated Practice series.

Unprecedented BIM Business Models for Unprecedented Times

The thing is, we’re living in unprecedented times. We all need to be creative in how we go about serving our clients – and getting paid for the considerable work that we’re doing.

Doing the same thing, taking the same approach, over and over, irrespective of the client or situation – whether stylistic sense or business sense – no longer works for the design profession and construction industry.

Coming-up with a creative BIM business model is a great start to assuring that the client is satisfied and you walk away with a profit.

To be creative in your BIM business strategy it helps to know what your options are.

It also helps to know how others have approached similar business situations so that we can learn from them.

That is where this magnificent new book comes in.

BIM, meet BMI.

Building Information Modeling, meet Business Model Innovation, that is.

A self-described handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises, Business Model Generation is a model book for those who communicate design ideas for a living.

In short, BMG is a very practical and accessible tool to analyze and improve you and your business.

“Business model innovation,” say the book’s authors, “is about creating value, for companies, customers and society. It is about replacing outdated models.”

What is your organization’s business plan?

What is yours?

Whether you have one that is outmoded or don’t have one, you need this book.

How do you plan on leveraging BIM?

How do you plan on leveraging IPD?

Making the work process work for you financially is what this book will help you accomplish.

Are you getting paid for all the extra work that goes into your BIM models?

What’s your value proposition?

If not top of mind – if your answer isn’t on the tip of your tongue – then this book’s for you.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

This book will help you launch, re-launch or advance your career and business from a value creation standpoint.

BMG is an indispensible manual on how to map, analyze, and strip-down your organization’s business model and reassemble it into something that creates real value. 

The starting point is the Business Model Template which allows you to break your business down into:

  • Key Activities – What you do every day to make the model work
  • Key Partners – Your suppliers and partners that help you make the model work
  • Key Resources – The most important assets you used to create value
  • Cost Structure – All the costs involved in running the business
  • Customer Relationships – The types of relationships you have with your customer segments
  • Customer Segments  – The different groups of people you’re trying to reach and serve
  • Channels – How you reach your customer segments
  • Revenue Streams – Where you make cash from your customer segments
  • Value Proposition – The key ideas that create value for your customer segments

For me, there are three undeniable benefits brought about by this book that compel me to recommend it here in a BIM and IPD blog.

1. Like IPD, the book follows its own advice and was written collaboratively – by a team of 470 practitioners (co-contributing co-creators) in 45 countries.

2. Business models, like building models, come in many shapes and sizes. You will recognize many of the books and cases mentioned in this book – and learn things about them that you didn’t know. This book will re-familiarize you with the most popular models – and encourage and inspire you to come up with your own – one  that will work best for you or your organization.

3. The book is stunningly beautiful to look at – both rough and polished, well-designed – it will inspire; has the look and feel of Francis Ching’s books from the 70’s. It would be a sin to read this book on a Kindle or iPad. This one you have to feel in your own hands. The book is no stranger to visual and architectural design: one section of the book is entitled Patterns, and opens with an architect Christopher Alexander quote. The book was designed by The Movement http://www.thmvmnt.com/ a Global Change Agency that creates with people.

In the interest of brevity, I won’t review the book here. Life is short – read it.

Still not convinced? For a summary see the following links and “About the Book” below.

Considering going back for your MBA?

This book will provide you with all you need to know for an MBA in BIM.

Order this paperback book here.

Get a taste (a 72 page PDF preview) of it here for free.

Visit the website.

Read co-author Alexander Osterwalder’s blog.

About The Book

Synopsis

Disruptive new business models are emblematic of our generation. Yet they remain poorly understood, even as they transform competitive landscapes across industries. Business Model Generation offers you powerful, simple, tested tools for understanding, designing, reworking, and implementing business models.

Business Model Generation is a practical, inspiring handbook for anyone striving to improve a business model — or craft a new one.

Change the way you think about business models

Business Model Generation will teach you powerful and practical innovation techniques used today by leading companies worldwide. You will learn how to systematically understand, design, and implement a new business model — or analyze and renovate an old one.

Co-created by 470 strategy practitioners

Business Model Generation practices what it preaches. Co-authored by 470 Business Model Canvas practitioners from 45 countries, the book was financed and produced independently of the traditional publishing industry. It features a tightly-integrated, visual, lie-flat design that enables immediate hands-on use.

Designed for doers

Business Model Generation is for those ready to abandon outmoded thinking and embrace new, innovative models of value creation: executives, consultants, entrepreneurs — and leaders of all organizations.

Added Value

One reviewer offered this comparison with other popular books on business models:

* The Ultimate Competitive Advantage: Secrets of Continually Developing a More Profitable Business Model by Mitchel, Coles, Golisano and Knutson, has a heavier focus on marketing with some ideas and questions relating to one-sided business models, so if you are looking to “sell more” perhaps you like this book.

* The Profit Zone: How Strategic Business Design Will Lead You to Tomorrow’s Profits by Slywotzky, Morrison and Andelman, has a heavier focus on profitability and the changing areas in which high profit is possible to keep, it is a quick read and perhaps complementary to The Business Model Generation that focus less on profitability.

* Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape by Henry Chesbrough has a heavier focus on technological innovation in the context of business models and also covers the important area of Intellectual Property in relation to open business models.

* Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model by John Mullins and Randy Komisar, focus more on entrepreneurship and start-ups and on learning from experimentation and adjusting the business model, also with more focus on financials.

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Filed under BIM organizations, collaboration, craft, craftsmanship, design professionals, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, process