We need to keep talking about BIM!

Joey Gardiner has written an article in Building, discussing the recent postings related to Tony Bingham’s article.

You can see it here: http://www.building.co.uk/communities/construction/bim/barriers-to-bim/5064486.article#commentsubmitted

My response is below:

We need to keep talking about BIM….

Well the debate continues……great, bring it on!

Firstly I’m just wondering where this scaremongering and scepticism is really coming from?

Certainly early BIM adopters and those getting on the train are moving on and beginning to create value. They’re not sharing too much and I suspect this is because the results are so good it’s competitive advantage, or perhaps so bad you wouldn’t want others to know! Neither position is surprising in the evolutionary digital swamp we’re in at the moment. But I do wonder if the scepticism is fuelled by the fear of being left behind in an extremely competitive market and the dawning realisation that with BIM Level 2 being integrated into the key Government departments now, this isn’t going away anytime soon.

Personally I find it hard to take seriously the rant of someone who says that  “BIM is nothing more than a posh set of drawings on an iPad.” However Bingham is entitled to his opinion, however uninformed – the problem is that people may well believe him! Perhaps the “emperors new clothes” really applies to the myths and tribalism peddled by the legal profession over the years serving to perpetuate the adversarial silos. I fail to understand how a tool or really data environment that quantifies and reduces risk, providing better information, earlier, for more informed decision-making, is supposed to increase the risk of the supply chain. It actually reduces risk, “build twice – virtually and then in reality”.

People being people will always look for reasons not to do something, not to innovate, not to take a lead, not to take a risk and stand out. Believe me I’ve been through the meetings, presentations, discussions, trying to convince senior managers to embrace the technology, and the cultural changes involved. It is not easy. It is not a #BIMpicnic!

Some people won’t be convinced whatever you say, because deep down, they’re not going to change anyway. They don’t want or perhaps fear the change.

That aside however I have a few observations:

Don Ward in his adjacent excellent article discusses change in the industry. Paul Drechsler at the CIOB Talk Construction conference gave a breathtaking overview of our industry and the need for change. Creating value, enhancing professionalism and profitability, and with it raising the external perception of the industry.

We know the industry needs to improve and change. BIM is only a lever, it’s not the silver bullet, but together with other levers, such as lean, procurement, collaboration and integrated working point the way forward to a better future.

Most might subscribe to the vision of a radically changed industry. It’s easy to do that. An idea doesn’t cost anything. 2050? Later? A generation away? Who knows? What we’re not addressing is how do we get from here to there? This is the tricky moment! We are in a pivotal time for our industry. Hearts and minds need to be won.

Here we are 2 years away from the BIM level 2 target. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface. Not everyone needs to become a BIM guru, or even a BIM novice. But with 2 million people to reach we’ve a long way to go in terms of penetration and achieving understanding.

Change is painful. Improving, making a step change even, involves asking, facing and answering the hard questions. I don’t think any of the pro BIM movement are against asking and answering questions!  Judging  by the many workshops I’ve attended!

The problem is that the legal profession has continued the culture of blame. It is reinforced in the way we are trained. We are not taught how to collaborate.

We need to unlearn a lifetime and relearn at the same time! Otherwise we will only perpetuate the cycle. The danger is if we don’t the environment will change around us and force the change. As I have said before, the industry is notoriously slow to change itself. Usually external forces force the change such as regulation, economics or other factors.

However on this one if we don’t change, someone else just might seize the opportunity and do the change for us. Google? The Chinese? Other businesses that will embrace different ways of working, and digital collaboration, probably SME’s and entrepreneurs – digital natives.

In this current swamp we’re in, the messages will inevitably be mixed, appearing confusing. Beacons of success and excellence, catastrophic failures and average performance. All mixed up. Companies going to the wall, new firms formed and taking advantage. However as the new ways bed in, some begin to see success, and a new type of industry will emerge.

It is an exciting time for the industry. Necessity is the mother invention, and the recession has forced many to reevaluate their business models. Change is on the way. For all sorts of reasons we have to move into a digital way of working. Lifecycle and value will be and are king. And the sooner we get our collective heads round that the better it will be.

Cheers!

J

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