Tag Archives: IT

Finding Your Way Around BIM

Michael Korda, in his brilliant and entertaining memoir, Another Life, tells the story of his first day of work at a publishing house.

Upon arriving at work he notices a bronze plaque on his desk bearing these words:

“Give the reader a break.”

It was the publisher’s view that their job was to make things as easy and clear for the reader as possible.

And they wanted him to know that.

It is in this spirit that I provided what I hope will be helpful guideposts throughout the text of my book.

I did this to help the reader find their way around what can be treacherous territory in a book that concerns itself largely with technology.

I wish more technology – and architecture – books would give the reader a break.

In organizing my book, BIM and Integrated Design (John Wiley & Sons, 2011,) I divided the information into roughly three parts: a triptych of sorts.

I find that organizing a book into parts helps with wayfinding – providing the reader with a much-needed big-picture view of the content they’re about to delve into.

So here’s a bit more detail – part by part – about what you’ll find in the book.

Part I: BIM AS THOUGH PEOPLE MATTERED

In Part I of BIM and Integrated Design, you will uncover mistaken beliefs surrounding BIM and the social co-benefits of BIM.

Here you will explore the most commonly encountered obstacles to successful collaboration, as well as the challenges this technology and process create for individuals and organizations in their labor toward a comprehensive, successful BIM adoption and implementation.

You will discover the social impacts and implications of working in BIM on individuals and firms, and how to overcome real and perceived barriers to its use.

Read these chapters to discover proven strategies for managing the disruptive change brought about by BIM, how to assess your team’s progress, and how to own not only the software but also the process.

You will learn about the recent proliferation of BIM-related professional titles and roles, the current state of transition of the industry from CAD to BIM, and what the real distinctions are between BIM- and CAD-, and IT-related roles, including distinctions between BIM managers, CAD managers and IT managers.

In this part,

  • you will read about a design firm that struggled with adopting BIM, only to find itself growing through the recent downturn due in large part to its attitudes and approach to BIM; and
  • how firms have successfully implemented BIM, from the varying perspectives of a consultant with extensive experience working in BIM with designers, a clinical and organizational psychologist who works with design and construction professionals who are contending with constant change, and a firm owner who has strategically and successfully worked with BIM since the application’s inception.

Part II: LEADING INTEGRATED DESIGN

In Part II of BIM and Integrated Design, the focus is on working alone and with others in BIM; obstacles to successful BIM collaboration and how to overcome them; and why collaboration is the way forward for our profession and industry.

Read these chapters to familiarize yourself with challenges to BIM collaboration including interoperability, workflow, firm culture, education, technological challenges, working in teams, communication, trust, BIM etiquette, one model versus multiple models, cost, and issues concerning responsibility, insurance, and liability.

Learn about the one critical skill set design professionals need to master if they are to survive the current professional, economic, social, and technological challenges, as well as strategies for making collaboration work.

Read these chapters to better understand why owners and design and construction professionals have been slow to adopt integrated design and how we can rectify this situation.

A brief but incisive overview of integrated design is offered to help you promote the process to owners and your team, and learn how BIM and integrated design together help design professionals achieve their ultimate goals: well-designed, high-performing buildings that deliver value to owners while benefitting all involved, including future generations.

In this part,

  • learn how a major architecture firm’s chief information officer is contending with near-constant change brought about by BIM;
  • learn from a major constructor regarding their experiences working on more than one hundred integrated BIM projects; and
  • hear from the author of the industry’s first integrated project delivery (IPD) case studies on where IPD is headed.

Part III: LEADING and LEARNING

In this last part of BIM and Integrated Design, you’ll learn how BIM changes not only the technology, process, and delivery but also the leadership playing field; how to shift into the mindset essential to lead the BIM and integrated design process in turbulent times; and how to become a more effective leader no matter where you find yourself in the organization or on the project team.

You’ll discover how the introduction of BIM into the workforce has significant education, recruitment, and training implications, and review the most effective ways to learn BIM.

A brief overview of three approaches to the topic of BIM and the master builder is offered, including arguments in favor of and against the return of the architect in the master builder role, and an argument for the composite master builder or master builder team.

In these chapters, you’ll

  • meet an architect and BIM manager who successfully made the transition from pencil to CAD to BIM of the greatest complexity; glean several significant insights from a regional director in the Office of Project Delivery at the General Services Administration (GSA); and
  • hear from two educators—one a designer and an ethnographer of design and technology who brings a background in architecture, computing, and anthropology to the study of human-machine-environment interaction; and the other an educator and industry technology strategist with firsthand experience working in integrated design on a significant IPD project, who shares his perceptions of what is on the horizon for professionals, organizations, and the AEC industry as it concerns BIM and integrated design.

Hopefully you now have a better sense of what the book is about and how it is organized.

If you have any questions about the book, please let me know by leaving a comment and I’ll try to answer them. Thanks!

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, Integrated Design, process, writing

Peer Pressure Transforms our World, but Can it Transform our Industry?

In an interview for my book, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (Wiley, 2011) I asked Perkins+Will CIO, Rich Nitzsche:

IT is constantly changing. P+W, founded in 1935 in Chicago, has 20 North  American offices and three overseas, with a total of 1,500 employeesat, is one of the world’s largest firms (#1 in Architect Magazine’s 2011 Architect 50.) How exactly do you turn a firm the size of an aircraft carrier around to embark on an entirely different IT direction?

Rich Nitzsche responded:

“Sometimes you feel like you’re in a dinghy pushing against that aircraft carrier. Not making a lot of progress. We didn’t do anything entirely different.”

“First of all,” he continued, “you have to have buy-in from the top.”

How effective is peer pressure in changing behavior?

“One of the things I’ve learned is we’d be sitting in an operations meeting with the guys who run our offices every day from a practical, bottom-line and staffing point of view.” 

This is where peer pressure came into play:

“One guy would grumble about how BIM is going,” Nitzsche added. “There’s a great opportunity to find the people around the table who have success stories to tell, who have already done the labor to get there. You need to let them shine – and let peer pressure do its work. Not in a mean-spirited way. It’s a way of saying ‘This can be done.’ You’ve done it – why not have a conversation about what it took? Try and highlight the success stories.”

“That’s something we’re trying to do a lot more of in IT – focus on communication. I’m finding that peer pressure is one of the most effective tools to try and persuade other groups to move ahead.”

I was a bit surprised by his response. So I asked:

With reference to BIM and other related technologies, how do you – in your role – create and communicate value for a firm as large and diverse as P+W?

Rich again answered in terms of peer pressure:

“There’s not an RFP that crosses our threshold that doesn’t have BIM as a requirement. And now we’re starting to see IPD show up. So if we’re going to compete with what we consider to be our peer group – and even with people who are smaller than us – we’ve got to be ready on all of these levels. So we’ve got to go in with a great BIM story and not only a great sustainability story but a leadership story about sustainable design. We have a green operating plan and green IT is part of the green operating plan. We’ve done a pretty good job of that. My goal this year is to get us into a leadership position about BIM and IPD – in the eyes of owners and our peers. Because we all measure ourselves to some degree in terms of how we measure ourselves in relation to our peers. And I would say we’re on the front edge when it comes to those two things.”

How did you know Revit was right for P+W?

“We have folks who insist that they can’t design in Revit. And I have other designers – who are just now emerging – who say that they can accomplish 95% of what they need to do in Revit. Designers who have taken it on as their personal mission who say that they’re going to wrestle this beast to the ground and bend it to my will as an architect. As these people emerge, we’ll do the peer pressure thing.”

“That said,” he concluded, “we can’t get stubborn about it and say we can’t use these tools – SketchUp and Rhino – to author your design idea. We would have open revolt.”

Peer pressure can transform the world, but can it transform our industry?

In National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient, Tina Rosenberg’s “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World,” she explores the thinking that human behavior is defined by our relationships with our colleagues and acquaintances.

Why did she make peer pressure the subject of her new book?

“Problems were in endless supply,” she writes. “But it was starting to seem more interesting and valuable to write about solutions.”

Solutions, that is, such as the virtues of peer pressure.

Rosenberg builds the case the most powerful motivator of our personal behavior is the search for status and peer approval.

But can peer pressure assure that we, as a profession and industry, will adopt the new technologies and collaborative work processes enmass?

Motivating through fear

A review in The New York Times pointed out that Rosenberg’s examples, while impressive, also raise doubts about peer pressure’s effectiveness.

“Many of the efforts that she reports on are successes in the short run but not in the longer run, or on a small scale but not a large scale,” reminding us that peer pressure alone cannot transform the world.

The Times review reminds us that our success as a society “depends on the strength of our communities, because the development of our best traits — trust, honesty, foresight, responsibility and compassion — depends upon our close interactions with others.”

So, peer pressure may not be able to transform our industry, but perhaps “it illuminates one crucial piece of the complex puzzle of social ­improvement.”

Join the club

You might recall from your youth peer pressure’s reputation for less beneficial behavior: doing what your friends did to go along with the pack.

Doing something just to fit in, to not rock the boat, to not stand out.

This behavior is perhaps understandable in a large corporate firm, where standing out is professionally ill-advised, and fitting-in the name of the game.

But here’s the rub:

If you have a good reason for using the tools you’re using, you ought to be able to explain and justify your choice.

You shouldn’t give-in to the powers that be because “everybody is doing it.”

It ought to be a choice, one that you make and most importantly, are free to make.

And yet, this admittedly can be difficult.

The concept of peer pressure implies the power of a group to impose its will upon an individual, “to coerce a state of being that might not otherwise exist.”

For as Rosenberg says, “We are all good boys at risk of the bad crowd. Peer pressure is a mighty and terrible force—so powerful that, for the vast majority of people, the best antidote to it is more peer pressure.”

Habits run deep

Many design professionals still refuse to change from their tools of choice – no matter the incentive.

And are just as unwilling to leave their silos and work together collaboratively.

As Rosenberg says in Join the Club, “No amount of information can budge us when we refuse to be budged. The catalog of justifications for destructive behaviors is a tribute to human ingenuity.”

Can an unwillingness to move to BIM, and not taking part on integrated teams, be considered “destructive behavior?”

Absolutely.

Can we be pressured, even coerced, to change against our wills?

I wouldn’t want to wait to find out.

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Filed under BIM, collaboration, construction industry, design professionals, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, people