Silos, tribes, ants and bees…

At various meetings, the thorny subject of education and training of construction professionals often comes up.

There is always recognition we need change. The issue is that it will take a long time for the institutions to respond at the speed we need. At this rate China will just come over here and do it all for us. (And I am not joking…)

To produce collaborative and integrated professionals, we need integrated and collaborative education and training. To get to that level, a lot of turkeys are going to have to vote for Christmas!

The institutions and academic organisations we have are both the problem and the solution. The procedures for changing courses are quite slow and it can take several years for even moderate changes to be approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies.

A while ago , Steve Race coined BIM as the Building Information Movement.

This made me think. Around the UK, there are now thousands of people involved in some way in changing our industry. Are you one of them? It can be as simple as encouraging someone to take their their first steps in the digital world, or getting someone along to a lecture or workshop. If we all did one small thing ( a BIM baby step) and hooked up one person to a BIM network or hub every day, every week even, 2016 would be a doddle, bring on level 3!

I just wonder whether Darwin might give us another way. Coming back to change and education. Perhaps pressure from the grass roots up will force the changes. We’ve already seen how the power of social media is changing the shape of our society. In this digital soup, roles become blurred, and large organisations and institutions creak and groan as they try to keep up. Networks help us move through this, agile, fleet of foot, flexible. It’s the power of the network (ants and bees) against our ponderous silos and tribes.

We already know that work and career patterns are changing. Portfolio working, project based, collaboration, networking, it’s all happening out there. Perhaps training and education will become more bite sized, short bursts of input at key points as we go through our career iterations. The job for life or single career died a long time ago. And this isn’t just GenY. The Boomers are having to adapt and change as well, not all of us have gold plated pensions! I think the Boomer generation with Gen Y are the transition to a different paradigm. A different way of life and work – the new normal.

I wonder out of all this whether we will grow a new industry within the old one? As we form new ways of working and collaboration using digital tools and techniques, it’s like we’re rearranging the neurons and pathways. Necessity will drive invention and innovation.The imperative for economic survival will drive change, evolution and adaptation, and also education and training. As a consequence the related institutions will have to follow or just fall behind in the process.

And at some point the new will visibly out grow the old, and rather like a mini beast discarding an old shell, the new will emerge.  A smarter, digitally enabled more efficient industry, connected to smart cities and countries even – why not? This may sound like some far fetched utopian dream. But as I have travelled round the country over the last year meeting different groups, I have met many people passionate about BIM and all that it can bring and the positive changes it can enable for our industry. The realisation is that this programme can actually stick- real change can happen – at last ! – and WE can do it!

So go on.

Take that baby BIM step.




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