Tag Archives: economy

Why Bring Another Book into this World?

Here’s the transcript of the talk I’ll be giving in San Francisco next week at KA Connect 2011,

a Pecha Kucha talk entitled

“I’ll Collaborate as Long as I Can Work Alone,”

20 slides,

20 seconds each.

Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

Randy

There’s a crisis in the profession

At 2 industry events just like this

I watched as an architect threw a chair at an invisible enemy

In both cases the speaker used the more generic “Designer” in lieu of the title “Architect”

Where’s the architect? Where’s all of my education and knowledge? Where am I? What became of me?

To quickly and effectively confront this situation head-on

I wrote a 300 page book

And published it with a traditional publisher

In just over 2 ½ years

Thoughtfully, the economy stalled my target audience’s crisis long enough for me to catch up

I started by building an online platform

An acquisitions editor on LinkedIn asks – anyone out there with a book idea?

I had one – the publisher turns it down but says those-four-magic-words:

What else you got?

Most writers have a book but no publisher

I had the enviable position of having a publisher but no book

They say the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas, right?

So I send them 17 ideas for books that will stop architects from throwing chairs

The publisher selects 3

Three that they feel would make a compelling book

The publisher says: “Combine these into a book you’ve got a deal.”

There was a sense of urgency – time was running out

The architecture profession is experiencing an identity crisis

The way we communicate knowledge to one another is changing

Publishing itself is going the way of the dinosaur – books may not exist when my book comes out

Nor, for that matter, bookstores.

At the same time the publishing and construction worlds are going through enormous changes

So is our environment

The world has a problem – it is heating up

And it takes collaboration – many minds – to solve complex problems

I saw my book as a way to collect and diffuse knowledge on this subject in this time of transition

And to teach design professionals the importance of working together collaboratively.

At the same time, buildings are becoming more and more complex.

We’ll only be able to tackle today’s complex problems through collaboration

Collaboration takes work and a prepared mindset

You have to be disciplined, can’t just show up and wing it

There was a gap in learning along these lines in the profession

My book sought to fill this gap.

I may not have originally set out to write a book on BIM and Integrated Design

But together they addressed the three topics my publisher selected from those I proposed

And BIM and Integrated Design go together like peanut butter and chocolate

Like Two great tastes that taste great together.

BIM and Integrated Design are two great technologies and processes that work well together.

It is often repeated that BIM is 10% technology 90% sociology

If that’s the case, why is 90% of the energy and resources focused on the technology?

My book comes at a time when few are focusing on the people side of the change equation.

Written from a firm culture standpoint, it addresses BIM as a cultural process.

So why a book?

A book allows you to collect knowledge in one place

Tell a coherent, compelling story

Books provide immersive experiences and expose us to learning that can transform our lives

But at the same time, what we consider a book is changing.

Our communications today are ephemeral

Like writing on a mental chalk board that gets wiped clean each night

And while the internet never forgets, so much of what we write and learn – including tweets and blogs – we forget

I set out to write a book whose message will last – and stick around.

For its content to lead to critical, necessary changes in the profession and industry

I made the book essentially a collection of stories

To do so I had to write the book less like a mental black board and more like a mental bulletin board, with knowledge accumulated over time

Where the latest information in the book builds on what came before.

Technology books are notorious for becoming dated or obsolete

To ensure that the book would remain relevant

Its focus is on people, relationships, and workflow.

These subjects are not as fickle as software and computers.

Technology may come and go.

The way people behave in response to new technology, however, does not change.

I grew up with Prairie Avenue Bookshop in Chicago

With the dream that I would one day write a book and give a signing there

After 48 years in business,

Prairie Avenue Bookshop closed while I was writing the book.

Will the chance to control their chair throwing tendencies compel architects to spend $75 on my book in the midst of an economic downturn?

My network had a lot of people who have worked with the technology and work processes

and have started to formulate their own insights

So I tapped into my network and set out to interview experts

People who were working in it,

leading it, had invented it, hire and retain those who use it

And people who were teaching it.

The book addresses the number one problem of BIM : not technology, but personality

BIM and Integrated Design require a much different mindset, and this mindset requires collaboration, coordination, team work, and knowledge sharing in order to succeed.

Overcoming the real barrier, which are the people who say they want to change but in the end have a hard time doing so.

Writing this book changed my perspective on everything.

Everyone I spoke with was completely open about sharing their experiences concerning the changes they were seeing in their teams, firms and industry

It’s like the observer effect

People spoke to me openly about the subject because there is a book

And there is a book because they spoke openly with me.

We so often think of collaborating with others outside our organization

When the most effective collaboration occurs every day, internally

Mentoring up and down

But first, this must take place inside ourselves – our seasoned selves mentoring our emerging selves, and vice versa.

Collaboration is an inside game – and my book sought to illustrate this.

My book will provide much needed background into a topic that many architectural firms do not yet fully understand

How can BIM advance the profession of architecture?

How can collaboration assure the survival of the architect?

This is not a technology book or a process book

This is a knowledge book

A book assuring that this knowledge is not lost.

Over 100,000 books are published in the US annually

So why bring another book into this world?

To shed some light

Into the lives of those who might otherwise feel like throwing a chair

In writing the book I was reminded that ours is a universe filled with enlightened minds

It’s just that the individual voices needed to be connected

And what better place to do that than in a book?

What do you think? Are books still the best place to capture and share information and knowledge?

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Filed under BIM, BIM expert, collaboration, design professionals, Integrated Design, people, process, workflow

BIM in a Time of Disruption

What’s meant by Disruption?

Why not just say Disturbance?

Or Difficulty, Dissonance, Disorder?

Why not just fall back on the old chestnut, Turbulent?

Why introduce a new adjective when an old one will do?

Tumultuous?

Because the times we are facing as a profession and industry are just that.

Disruptive.

Requiring unusual levels of exertion on our part.

Marked by a shifting.

Resulting in displacement or discontinuity.

A break with the past.

A rupture (dis-rupture.)

Interrupting and impeding progress.

Leading to undesired consequences.

Facing challenges that act on us.

Not consecutively, in sequence, but simultaneously.

Preventing learning from taking place.

And a restful night’s sleep.

Placing us squarely outside our comfort zones

Feeling that things are not entirely in our control.

Like having your legs knocked out from under you.

What changes and doesn’t change

What doesn’t change in these disruptive times?

  • Values
  • Ideals
  • Goals
  • Culture

One thing that does change is the environment we’re living and working in.

Our context.

A shift in context

Think of the world we’re living and working in as our context.

The context in which we operate is shifting.

The challenge is how to remain productive and engaged while the world around us is changing.

Individuals, teams and organizations all over the world are faced with unprecedented levels of change in today’s social, economic and technology environments.

Here’s a quick survey through the litany of current disruptions to our familiar way of doing business.

Here’s the new context as I see it for working in BIM and Integrated Design.

3 types of disruption

  • Social
  • Economic
  • Technology

or S.E.T.

As in

  • mindSET               (social)
  • skillSET                  (technology)     
  • reSET                     (economy)

How to face the current disruptive challenges

  • social mindSET  
  • technology skillSET                         
  • economic reSET                               

And how to recognize them.

Like our president, design professionals today are confronting multiple problems at once.

Confronting us from all sides.

Compounding upon itself.

1. Social disruption

Workflow challenges.

Due to the fact that BIM has a completely different workflow from CAD.

And that senior management doesn’t understand this.

Caused by fellow teammates asking questions every 20 seconds.

Individual user frustration over inflexible access to elements needed for their work.

And team-wide loss of productivity while waiting for updates to complete.

Model data integration goes up.

Flexibility of workflow and performance in collaboration go down.

Work-sharing issues.

Working more collaboratively.

And focusing on creating new strategic collaborative relationships.

Interdisciplinary teams come together earlier in the process — at the onset of project team development.

Collaboration between architectural firms and other disciplines involved in the built environment ensue.

New types of agreements that promote cooperation.

Participation from all three major players – owners, architects, and constructors – simultaneously.

For the 1st time in history there are now 4 generations in the workplace at the same time.

Mutual mentoring.

Demand for accountability.

Quality problems often follow hastily put together reduced fee models worsening the problem and perception.

Architects finding their title shared with other industries.

Decisions expected to be more evidence-based.

Measured and then monetized.

Results-based compensation.

When we’re compensated.

2. Economic disruption

Brought about by the economic downturn, recession.

Running cold to hot.

From frozen credit and promotions to outright firing people.

Firms facing increasingly stiff competition.

Cutting fees to the bone to get new work.

Experiencing brand erosion.

Individuals and firms.

And still losing work to firms who low-balled fees.

Firms doing what they need to do to keep from having to layoff employees.

Shortened work weeks.

Furloughs.

Replacement of full-time technical employees with contract or outsourced workers.

Clients carefully considering the cost/benefit ratio of the services they buy.

Feeling more squeezed and threatened.

Wanting more but desiring to pay less:

The new less is more.

Client procrastination.

Clients want more for their money.

More complicated buildings delivered faster.

Schedule acceleration.

Unrealistic client expectations.

Turnover increasing.

Backlogs reducing.

Training considered an overhead cost.

Employees considered an overhead cost.

Feeling vulnerable and anxious.

Survivor’s guilt.

Making adjustments.

Working hard to maintain creative standards of design.

Striving to increase productivity of senior management.

Taking on more work, less time, less appreciation, less perks, less pay, rising expectations and fear.

More closely managed projects lead to more micromanaging, more oversight of senior management, less freedom and more scrutiny, less autonomy.

And happiness.

Taking on more risk to stay viable.

Or just to stay.

Going after work outside our area of expertise.

Smaller projects.

Outside your comfort zone.

In project type, in services rendered, in locations where you do business.

In the technology we use.

3. Technology disruption

Brought about by staying current with new tools.

Investment in new technology.

The sudden advent of building information design tools and digitally-driven fabrication of building components that integrate the design-to-build supply chain.

BIM, while not yet a ubiquitous tool, settles in.

Although still underleveraged.

And misunderstood.

HR thinks BIM is just the latest software.

As does senior management.

Clients start to expect BIM models as part of the deliverables. 

BIM helps meet quality, speed of delivery, energy consumption, sustainability and capital cost goals.

Design and construction marketplace, historically slow in its pace of disruption and change.

Suddenly isn’t.

BIM and Integrated Design require the use of collaborative tools.

Employees spend the day on Skype or in GoToMeeting sessions.

The firm sounds different with more frequent conference calls over speakerphone and web conferencing.

1000’s of clashes, conflicts and coordination errors are aired publicly in front of the whole team.

Like hanging your dirty laundry out to dry.

For everybody to see in the main conference room.

Employees are told this is part of the new process.

And not to equate the airing of clashes, conflicts and coordination errors with being criticized in public.

It’s best for the project.

We look for impact on morale.

Projects are better now for making course corrections in design rather than out in the field.

No longer worn-down by contractor RFIs and change orders.

While working in BIM, we learn about construction and constructability and sequencing.

And if it’s hard to build in BIM it’s hard to build in the field.

As Eric Hoffer said: “In times of change,

learners inherit the earth

while the learned find themselves

beautifully equipped to deal with

a world that no longer exists.”

Social, Economic and Technological Disruption

This is a time of economic, technical as well as social transition for practitioners.

Dealing with disruption requires

  • Agility, flexibility, adaptability, resourcefulness
  • Playing smarter, not only better
  • Listening, being observant, asking questions
  • Being attuned to the present so that we can anticipate the future
  • Perhaps most importantly, the right mindset and attitude

And yet, despite all of this disruption, according to Gallup, employees are still very much engaged.

How could this be?

Employees know what is going on.

But they don’t see much of the disruption.

They’re protected from it.

This is our new role in the age of BIM.

To do all we can to protect each other from the disruptors that are all around us.

In this time of less, we accomplish this as much by what we do

as by what we don’t do.

We do this by not doing or saying anything

unwittingly or purposefully

to demotivate or disengage one another.

Primum non nocere. “Do no harm.”

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Filed under BIM, BIM organizations, collaboration, construction industry, design professionals, Integrated Design, process, workflow