Look forward or look back? – Evolve or die!

Evolve or die!

Pevsner talked about the Zeitgeist, or the Spirit of the Age.

I wonder how he would have summed up where we are now?

Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that. – Bill Shankly, the greatest Liverpool FC manager.

Perhaps this technological anarchic world we’re living in is also more than this too- everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is up for grabs.

We live in strange times.

Trump, Brexit, Remoaners, Leavers, FTSE at an all time high, Leicester won the Premier League, Boris as the potential PM, floods, hurricanes, ISIS. It seems dramatic, profound and  life changing and affecting events are happening almost every day. And underlying this is huge popular dissatisfaction, alongside continual bombardment of change in all areas of our lives now. You can get the feeling that if you pause for a moment you’ll be swept away. It is relentless. We see it in our inboxes, information overload.

In our industry it is no different perhaps – or is it?

Was it Einstein who said something like that the definition of insanity is always doing just the same things and expecting to get different results? – “Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Is this really what we’ve all been doing for decades?

We’ve been eking out little improvements here and there on a system that’s basically broken and the equivalent of a horse and cart. Meanwhile the digital equivalent of a Lamborghini is racing over the hill to obliterate industry everyday life, as we all know it. We see it everyday, symbolized by those cunning smart phones that are now inseparable from our anatomy. They are changing our lives ( have changed in fact, only today, airbags on lampposts to protect smart phone zombies in the street – or is that an early April’s Fool?)

Smartphones (the good old iPhone launched in 2007) have changed our culture and behaviours in the space of less than 10 years. They symbolize technology and connection and are driven by data. We are only just beginning to see what a data driven industry can really look like. Every day there are new developments and innovations. Admittedly not all of these will last for long, but the ferment is well under way now. Survival of the fittest is kicking in, new players come and go every week.

For those who have vision and insight all the signs are out there. The tectonic plates not only of our industry but of society at large are shifting beneath our feet. But who cares? Not it seems most people, hoping life will go on just as it is right now.

Only it won’t will it? It simply CAN’T! And it really is the height of head in the sand syndrome to pretend otherwise. Ignore this at your peril, both for your own career and your organisation or business.

For all kinds of reasons within a generation, society and as a consequence, our industry will be transformed inside and out. Whether we like it or not. Whether we resist or not. THIS IS INEVITABLE. The only question is do we respond, adapt, and evolve or quietly and stoically accept our fate?

For those surfing the digital wave right now or just starting out then they’ll be in a good place. If there is a lesson here, then it is that change, technological advance, and digital disruption are here to stay, and are a constant now.

So deal with it!

Adapt, respond, and evolve to succeed. Or die. Famous names have gone out of business. Many more will follow. Digital skills are already at a premium in the market place. Careers and jobs are at stake.

I really think we have reached a point where this cannot be ignored or kicked into the long grass or the too difficult pile any longer. We need to embrace the digital future of our industry. And it would be nice if the great and the good stood up and made it clear to everyone that there is a great future here to be had if we get on with it. And work together……..Yes careers will change, businesses will change, jobs will be lost and be changed. But the opportunity is for more new businesses, new opportunities, new jobs and ways of working. Strange that the latter doesn’t make the headlines but the former does! Good news is not news is it peeps?!

Of course if disruptive change and innovation is the new normal then this opens up scary possibilities. We have barely begun to tap into what data power will do for our industry but soon it will become very clear. New business models. No baggage. Driven by data. The possibility of an Uber, AirBnB, iTunes or Amazon only this time operating in the built environment industry grows more certain every day. And overnight our industry will be changed into those that can and do, and those that can’t, won’t or don’t care. Just like music, digital imaging, and media, automotive, aerospace and manufacturing before their digital transformation. It’s the same story. For all that we’ve been through to get to this point, there are equally challenging times ahead, perhaps even more so…

Game overliterally – for some. Find a new game! A new of working, a new business model, a new USP, based on digital transformation.

Worried?– you should be!

Not convinced? OK, time will tell. The longer you leave it, the more you will have to do in a shorter timescale at greater expense. Training, software, hardware, new skills, it all takes time, which is running out. Your peers and competitors will be soon long gone ahead of you. But hey, you don’t have to believe me. Of course this will all go away very soon. Or will it? Or will you?

Your call buddy! Wake up, smell the coffee, and all those good things!

PS. – You can get help here.




PPS. Notice that I didn’t mention BIM or Level 2 at all! The conversation is changing. Level 2 is a stop on the journey to the UK’s digital future.

PPS. Apologies to Mark Farmer – Modernise or Die! Pinched your style of title!


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas 1914-1953



JOHNEYNON. Is a journeyman Architect, Design Manager, BIM Champ, writer, blogger, lecturer and speaker. You can catch up with him at http://www.zenanddm.com.





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