Tag Archives: IDEO

T-Shaped BIM

Every now and then a simple, seemingly obvious concept comes around that transforms an entire industry. This post will introduce such a concept: the T-shaped BIM teammate.

Here, we are of course not talking about forming a T-shaped connection of walls in Revit. If you came here wanting to learn how to intersect walls in BIM, you’re a fool. Go here.

The rest of you, stick around. You might learn something important.

And, as in past posts, it is not actually BIM that is T-shaped – it is you. Or Tu – French and familiar for you.

Some people are put-off by the word collaboration – and for that reason I am going to refrain from using it again in this post.

For them – the word – implies compromise, time-wasting, money-wasting, talent-wasting, and perhaps worst of all, people- and process-oriented as opposed to product- or building-oriented interactions.

To them, people are impediments to progress, not the lubricant that makes things flow. Perpetually in search of workarounds –they work around people whom they believe keep them from completing their work. You know the type.

The social case for BIM and Integrated Design

Integrated Design came into being for one reason and one reason alone: to achieve greater results for the owner and other project stakeholders. Including you.

There’s a compelling business case for working in integrated design: it enables the efficient and effective use of tools such as BIM and related technologies.

There’s a compelling technology case for working in integrated design: it potentially makes more efficient shared use of the software and work processes.

And there’s a compelling people case for working in integrated design: by colla- – by working with others, working together, cooperating traitorously or treasonously, sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus  – you and your team both can attain greater results.

Admittedly, not every project lends itself to the advantages of working co- co- co- together. For example, due to project size, schedule or client demands.

There’s another way to look at – working jointly – that may appeal to you more and potentially change the way you work from here on out.

The “|” in DIY

I used to work with someone who did it all himself. If there was a new program a project had to be accomplished in he’d learn it himself and do the work himself – even when he had several talented and eager others at his disposal. That way he knew the work was going to get done right. In a previous post I labeled this type of colleague’s approach DIY. I wrote about this concept – DIY vs. SxS – a while back here and will be speaking about it in a couple weeks at Christopher Parsons’s KA Connect 2010 here and here.

When he worked with others he thought he was delegating by handing-off tasks he didn’t want to do, but what he was doing was abdicating his role.

He was an “I” and as we know, there is no “I” in BIM

And as has been noted, no “I” in IPD either.

The T in archiTecT is more important, noteworthy, prominent and if you will, architectural, than the “I” in archItect or arch|tect which is divisive, isolating and dissenting.

“I” is a barrier – a barrier to co- co- co- cooperation – and as with the compelling and popular blog title Arch | Tech can imply a barrier between design and technology – or even design and construction – instead of stitching them together.

But the “|” doesn’t have to be an obstruction or impediment.

“|” can also be a net – as when Robert Frost famously opined that writing free verse is like playing tennis without a net.

Which is how I interpret the “|” in Arch | Tech, as a net between design and technology, lobbying the BIM back and forth.

As well, for that matter, as the “|” in BIM – volleying the model back and forth between design and construction, weaving a single unified model for use by all. 

But | digress.

The ideal T-shaped BIM teammate

Right now you’re happy to find an engineer or consultant that works in BIM. Period. No matter their shape – or what shape their in.

But in time, as BIM becomes ubimquitous, you will start to add another level of criteria as you put teams together.

You will start to require that all your Team members be T-shaped and you will want to Team with other T-shaped professionals.

And because They will want to Team with T-shaped Teammates, you will Take it upon yourself to become T-shaped yourself.

The ideal candidate/colleague/teammate working in BIM and Integrated Design has both of these qualities

  • Deep skills
  • Broad reach

The vertical “I” or “|” represents what you do well – your depth.

The horizontal bar across the top is your reach – reaching out to assist others.

And as importantly being assisted by them.

Place the bar atop the “I” and you get the T-shaped BIM Teammate.

By becoming T-shaped you are putting on two performances:

  • 1. results in your own position (the “I” or vertical stanchion) and
  • 2. results by co- co- conjugating with others on your team (the horizontal bar resting atop the “T”)

T-shaped BIM Teammates do two things really well. They

  • reciprocate in that they are willing to share information and ask for information when needed
  • are rewarded for their own performance as well as for contributing to others on the team

Read more about this important concept here and here.

What causes a person with deep skills but little wingspan to suddenly reach out to share information with her teammates? Namely this: empathy

Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, alludes to the role empathy plays in the T-shaped person

We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they’re willing to try to do what you do. We call them “T-shaped people.” They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T — they’re mechanical engineers or industrial designers. But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That’s what you’re after at this point — patterns that yield ideas.

You can read more about what Tim has to say On Being T-shaped here and read an incisive interview with Tim where he discusses being Mr. T here

Still not convinced – or for that matter – entertained? Then take this and call me in the morning.

It should be apparent by now that the T-bone concept may be new to BIM – but not to the world of IT and computing. The first citation to T-shaped people goes back almost 20 years to David Guest, “The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing,” The Independent (London), September 17, 1991. Read it here.

Soon, our Integrated Design teams will be made up exclusively with T-shaped individuals.

Made up, that is, of archiTecTs, conTracTors, consultanTs and clienTs with both deep skills and wide reach.

In time, our teams will begin to resemble something of a T-shaped chorus line

TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

which, perchance, resembles a bridge or aqueduct

                  TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

an apt image and timeless symbol for carrying the client’s goals toward exceptional results.

Simply sea-changing.

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