(Or: How I learned to trust my feelings and let go…)
Spotlight of the Week: Guest Blogger Dace Campbell
Dace Campbell, AIA, LEED AP is a Customer Success Manager at Autodesk and a nationally recognized expert and strategist in innovative tools and processes, including Building Information Modeling, Lean Construction, and Integrated Project Delivery. He is a licensed architect with almost 25 years of experience in design, construction, and computer visualization supporting collaborative, efficient design and construction.
A long time ago, in a cinema far, far away, I became an instant and life-long Star Wars fan(atic). So it's with great enthusiasm that I offer this series of quotes from Star Wars, as guidelines when leading your company and its culture through BIM transformation.
Practically every AEC firm has at least dabbled in BIM, many have begun the journey to leverage it in their project operations. Yet few have completely adopted BIM as truly transformational, altering not only their professional practice but their culture and relationships with partners, suppliers, and clients.
Remove Your Baggage
"In you must go."
["What's in there?"]
"Only what you take with you."
Certainly a necessary first step in transforming your company with BIM is training. Most AEC firms and professionals making the switch to BIM do so with previous experience in (2-D) CAD. Yet, BIM is more than just 3-D CAD, and the natural reliance on outdated thinking about drawings as a collection of lines and arcs is a burden to be overcome when training project teams to embrace BIM. It cannot be stressed enough that when "converting" staff to BIM, technical, professional, and management staff alike must also learn to appreciate that it is a shift in philosophy about representation, even a simulation, of a proposed facility.
Apply It in the Real World
"You must unlearn what you have learned."
["All right, I'll give it a try"]
"No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."
All the proper technical training in the world will only get you so far. Your project teams need to apply their training before the ink on their course completion certificates is dry. Project teams, especially project managers, will be hesitant to jump in, yet there is no other way. There are no auditions in construction. With a few early pilot projects, and ultimately a few project successes, it will then be time to cut the cord. To reinforce BIM behavior, many firms issue mandates for applying BIM on all new projects, and a few even turn off or discontinue legacy CAD systems.
"Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ship and not excuses."
– Darth Vader
As your early BIM-enabled projects achieve success, momentum will build for continuing to integrate BIM across operations. But with growth comes new challenges: expectations are raised that success will be repeatable, scalable, measurable, and standardized. To be successful, you must have a strategic plan, follow it, and maintain laser-sharp focus as you overcome obstacles and challenges that hinder BIM adoption. Naysayers will inevitably point to flaws, management will oppose embracing change until they see profitable results, and institutional momentum and inertia will resist progress. Acknowledge the barriers, but remember that nothing worth having comes easy.
Measure Your Progress
"Stay on target!"
– Gold Five
In your strategic plan for BIM transformation, be sure to: assess where you are; set your target by envisioning where you want to be; and then develop a plan for how to get there. But that's not all – no strategic plan is complete without developing a monitoring plan, in which you measure your progress regularly and frequently. By doing so, you keep your target in sight at all times, maintain urgency, and make whatever minor course corrections are necessary to achieve your ultimate aim of transforming your firm's culture to fully embrace BIM.
As you measure your progress in BIM transformation, little success begets larger success. Be sure to take stock of what is working well. Identify and capture successes as Best Practices, and share those with individuals and teams struggling to adopt to new methods. Acknowledge and document measurable success to business processes as ROI, and be sure to promote those across departments, between geographic regions, and up to management.
What's Not Working
Certainly as you move forward with BIM transformation, you will have failures along the way. If you have a robust strategic plan and are vigilant about monitoring and correcting your progress, you have an excellent chance of mitigating risks and preventing disastrous failures. That said, "stuff" happens. Don't shy away from it. Embrace it, learn from it, and "fail forward fast." And document the difficulties, too, as Lessons Learned. In much the same way a culture of safety is strengthened by recording and socializing a "near miss," be sure to share your BIM Lessons Learned along with your Best Practices, to avoid repeating mistakes.
"You truly belong here with us among the clouds."
– Lando Calrissian
Once your firm has standardized and embraced BIM as part of its culture, recognize that your work is not done. BIM, as a collection of tools and processes, continues to evolve. Today, we are moving beyond localized software licenses and occasionally synchronized data to the "cloud." That is: always on, always updated, always accessible, infinite in computational resources, and offering you a single source of truth for the multi-dimensional simulation of your facility in planning, design, construction, and operations.
Your firm's transformation to BIM, and with BIM, will continue onward into the cloud and beyond. That's fodder for another Beyond Design blog, of course – as a wise Jedi master once said, "Always in motion is the future."
What do you think? Have a few other quotes from the Star Wars saga that apply to BIM Transformation? Please leave a comment.