#onetomany – changing the paradigm


I attended an event at Google HQ last week, with the starring role being The B1M  http://www.theb1m.com  hosted by YouTube. The B1M now being no 1 BIM influencer…well done guys! More about you later.

It was a great event, a good evening with a digitally savvy connected audience. We were entertained and swamped with countless awesome numbers about the growth of video and the internet and the effect this is having on society.

When you add this up this is a digital torrent, deluge, earthquake of change. Affecting how we live, work , play, buy, entertain…everything really.

And then trudging wearily behind all this we have our construction industry.

Some are embracing digital technologies and ways of working and doing great stuff.

Others have just begun their journey.

Some are unconvinced….yet…but its not too late. And there are those who want to avoid this at all costs, so they’ve headed down to the beach to hold back the tide, or are just digging a hole for their head. Good luck with that!

However, be in no doubt this transformation is irresistible, and inevitable, and all-pervasive.


In my darker moments I have thought sometimes that the best thing for Spaceship Earth might be for the human race to become extinct overnight. I know it won’t happen but we are killing the planet and the ecosystem we share with billions of amazing creatures. Our Earth needs a chance and I’m wondering whether collectively we can ever do that.

Perhaps in the construction industry we need the equivalent of the dinosaurs’ meteorite , I’m calling this our MP3 moment.

Clearly our industry will not change itself of its’ own volition. Can the vision of a few really transform the many? We cannot speak collectively with one voice. Our institutions, organisations and leading bodies cannot collaborate effectively or agree on the important issues, and are too slow to respond. And getting them to agree agendas? Too many pursue their own ends, and want to plant their own flag. However if you want another working party or report in 12 months time I’m sure someone will oblige! Any excuse to not actually DO something that will have an impact.

We need our MP3 moment.

MP3 moment

As Fred Mills said at Google, the forces outside our industry are now conspiring to lever radical change within. About a decade ago MP3s, iPods and iTunes transformed the music industry. Changing commercial and production models almost overnight.

I wonder whether the equivalent needs to happen in our industry? As we move towards a digital industry, information and data control becomes paramount. Let’s face reality. The old ways just won’t cut it any more. Imagine some new entrants to our industry, not hampered by analogue thinking, digitally expert, data specialists who can just do it.

It will be interesting to see how their entrance and performance will be received by their laggard competitors as they clean up and the rest of the field just can’t keep up.

In evolutionary terms this is survival of the fittest, those that adapt and respond effectively to the new order. Those that get it are already doing it. Those that don’t, aren’t. Simples.

Famous and long-established names, will lumber to respond and fade away, simply withered by the accelerating pace and hampered by their internal inertial resistance to change.

New paradigms

Returning to The B1M, I know this will embarrass Fred (so apologies Fred and Tom) but to me what these guys have done so far is exactly what we need. They have a vision for the industry beyond their years. They demonstrate a commitment that has been unwavering, without deviation. And a passionate belief that they can make a difference and achieve something for the industry. Not only have they talked the talk, they’ve made the walk as well. They have staked everything on this –  in another vernacular their soft body parts are on the line! :o)

An amazing example, inspiring.

This is how the paradigm shifts for the Gen Ys, the Gen Zs and those that follow to make a difference and live and work differently in the digital age. Clear vision and a willingness to commit and follow through, enabled by digital technology and this ethereal environment that is all around us now and touches every aspect of our lives.

Another example who springs to mind is Alison Watson. Ali is MD of Class of Your Own http://designengineerconstruct.com engaging with schools and colleges. Ali has a vision for transforming education, inspiring a generation and getting young people into our industry. Again this is someone with clear vision and has staked everything to make it work. Her workshops are truly inspiring and amazing and if you haven’t experienced it yet then you should. Get in touch at the website.

I know there are many more examples our there like these amazing people. If you know someone in this category, add a comment to this post and nominate them.

I would add to this group of inspirers the people who lead the BIM Regions (Hubs) groups and the BIM4 groups. Over the last few years they’ve kept the groups going without a great deal of support from anyone. Again a group of people with a vision for industry transformation, willing to commit.

To our industry’s shame all of these and many more have not had the support they deserve and need.

Sepp Blatter

I wonder if some of our industry leaders and organisations could learn from this? And certainly if you look around then you can see where we are and the state of things.

So…. we are where we are.

And the current organisations, institutes and industry set up have brought us to this point in history. Can this now get us to where we need to be? I don’t think so! The changes we need are so far-reaching . The question is are the leading organisations we have capable of responding, quickly and decisively enough to lead the change. Too many of our establishment organisations are more self-preserving than having a broader vision. To paraphrase dear Sepp, having brought us to this point, they think they’re best placed to lead the change.

Mmmmmmm….jury’s out I think!

The many

To me this is a question of relevance. Are the messages that come out from CEO’s, COO’s, spokespeople in tune with the feelings and issues important to the grass-roots? Mostly not. But I also think something different is happening now. Those that have the passion and commitment are just DOING something anyway – they’re not waiting any more. A network is growing, both within and without these existing organisations. It’s about connection, shared vision, and inspiration. To work together in new ways , across boundaries and silos, where labels and flags become irrelevant. It’s organic, anarchic even, and can’t be controlled or organised, non-hierarchical. And totally in step with digital life as it is and will be. Networked, connected, passionate, inspiring. It’s easy to join – just reach out!

Just desserts

We’re getting to crunch time here. 2016 April and October targets approach. So pressure is ramping up.

It is not all gloom and doom out there. There are a lot of people doing really good stuff, ranging from people actually doing BIM Level 2 to people trying to support an industry in evolution, and more.

I think the industry will get just what it deserves.

What I mean by this is that if most businesses and organisations continue to pursue their own agendas and profit chase at the expense of everyone else, then in the end the valley of dry bones awaits them.

However, if we embrace the change, and collaborate nicely both for the good of the industry, others and as well as ourselves, then we will have made the transition, and profit in the process. What’s happening at grass-roots already demonstrates that.

I feel that all the pieces might not be on the board yet…I think there is a left field player yet to enter the arena. Our equivalent of the MP3, with unknown consequences, but it will be a game-changer, step-changing moment. In our move to transforming an industry I guess there will be many twists and turns before we get “there”. But the end game is inevitable. Why? Simply because our industry cannot continue the way it is for much longer anyway. For so many reasons it is unsustainable on many levels.


I’m in danger of becoming the proverbial cracked record (for those that remember vinyl!). It is a fact that where we are, the basic messages need to be repeated over and over and over again. Until more people get it. (According to Raj Chawla this is 672,000 in the UK!)

So as I’ve said before, why are we so accepting of this status quo? Why are more people not frustrated and angry about the current state of affairs? Demanding change? Instead of just shrugging shoulders and sighing, why not actually do something? Get off your bum and vote with your feet. The smallest action can have amazing results. If we all did one thing to make the industry better this week, I bet you could feel it in Australia. (Hi Rebecca!)

And just remember…….it’s taken me about a week to put this post together. In that time at least one person has died on a UK construction site and many more seriously injured.


Cheers :o)




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