Friday, April 18, 2014

Can 2 decades of mismanagement of a global industry be bridged over? What responsibility do ‘veteran BIM practitioners’ need to take for the current state, where the entire global AEC is simply unable to keep up with the times?

For me, probably the most irritating thing about the ‘BIM field’ within the global AEC industry is its un-preparedness to face up to reality.
I have previously likened it to a big baby not willing to grow up; nowadays even that parallel seems too mild for it.

I went into this area over 20 years ago and I was not the only one, there was a considerable part of the industry that had similar interests, goals and dreams as I valued and believed in.
What happened in the last 2 decades is that many of those enthusiasts left the field due to realising the futility of an unwinnable war, while others mellowed themselves into a marginal group of specialists that are by now getting just enough attention from the industry to justify the long, hard work they suffered at the coalface.

Where these loyal devotees are making their current mistakes is by giving their own, hard earned credibility to the ones that for years had ridiculed them for not understanding how money was made within the AEC industry.
These ‘ex foot soldiers of the BIM innovation’ are now brought in en masse to rub some of their expertise over the many ‘dinosaur companies’ up till now largely BIM ignorant, so their brazen leaders can carry on calling themselves as the ‘leaders’ of the industry.

Those same leaders, pushed by more recent peer pressures to ‘keep up with BIM’ readily buy into strategies that the alien BIM expert will be the necessary catalysts for their companies to burst into the limelight of BIM excellence, yet they ignore the age-old saying that ‘One swallow does not a summer make’.
And for most of these ‘swallows’ the time is slowly running out, they themselves, once the leaders of the field are finding it hard to keep up with the ‘enabling technologies’ they used to feel so comfortable in – their bodies and minds are getting better suited for wise, advisory roles than the pretence of being the fresh-digital-innovator jockeys these ‘catalyst’ roles ask them to be.

As pessimistic as this view may sound, I do not see the status of BIM within AEC to be that bad or worse than it deserves to be considering its origins.
It is, what it is and I concur with this situation.
What I see to be catastrophic in this, is the reluctance by almost anyone at any level of operation to name, examine, let alone accept publicly and set out to genuinely do something about the way the SQ of BIM in AEC is.

So, again, those that once fought the ‘good war’ of innovation, bringing better processes, increased productivity or just more enjoyable working methods to the industry are willingly being used to legitimise the industry embarking on another 1, 2 or 5 years of pilot BIM projects, timewasting conferences and endless theories that have never, and most importantly are unlikely to ever work.

20 years ago, I believed in my own generation to bring on the innovation, 10 years ago I still did, but putting my faith in a more mature set of strategies than those simply relaying on smart tools and processes.
Up to  a year or two ago my hopes shifted to new generations to come – trusting some savvy young opportunist to see more in this massive global market than a giant pot of money easily harvested with a bit of non-comprehendible techno-jargon.

These days I continuously re-examine this belief, as the young ones I see do not seem to be in a hurry to take charge of this vital industry. Even if they have the will, knowledge and bravura to give it a go, they seem to lack the experience of the seasoned fighters that fought these battlefields to take on the incumbents in no hurry to change.
Unfortunately to them the old pioneers have compromised themselves too much to become real allies in their younger counterparts’ quests, so the most capable ones of the new generations are leaving this particular field for some easier targets to aim for.

Maybe those last 2 decades will prove to be too big a gap to bridge for the AEC industry and BIM.

Pictures of my nephew Viki; 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The measure of a BIM infiltration coefficient for a BIM-active entity

I’ve been taking it easy with BIM lately.  
This can be seen as a probably not surprising bi-product of my self-preservation instincts kicking in at the end of a challenging year.
One can say, I got totally BIM-med out over it, an unhappy culmination of two decades of vigorously pursuing an elusive professional target with at best- mixed results.

I now got myself a job that has nothing to do with BIM.
I am staying away from most online or real-life BIM interest groups. My contributions to my own blogs had been muted to an almost full silence and I never upgraded to ArchiCAD 17, though I expect the launch of 18 to be soon.
I still fire version 16 up every now and again, nothing quite like this little tool to check over things I need to be absolutely sure about in my current job, that has – as noted before – no relation to BIM.

So, with such a high level of BIM-abstinence mastered, it could be considered a sign of weakness for relapsing into thinking BIM again, but for a person of few skills and even fewer hobbies, this could be just the right thing to ponder over, on a peaceful Thursday night.

One trigger that made me reach for the BIM-keyboard tonight was a BIM report that had been forwarded to me by a well-wishing friend, aware of my professional interest in the topic.
A scientific looking, chunky publication of 60-something pages it offers a myriad of serious-looking BIM behavioural theories for an entire region, based largely on the survey of 400-something AEC professionals.

I am not one to get terribly excited about surveys, in fact the ones related to BIM I avoid even more than others, but this set had sparked a rekindled interest to formulate the ‘true level of BIM advancement of an entity’ through numbers, somehow.

The other prompt for me to pitch in the debate of quantifying BIM uptake within the AEC industry had been a series of recent encounters with people working for large multinational AEC companies claiming that their organizations were now ‘doing BIM, whole sale’, ‘full on’ or in a similar way, implying a deep and widespread commitment.

Start scratching the surface of some of these entities and you’d see that BIM capability can be easily limited to a small group of up-trained CAD technicians, headed by a self-styled BIM manager or even worse, by lsemi-formal relationships with modelling back offices.
When the mother-ship’s staff numbers reach into multiple-thousands working over many continents, these capabilities are often just a drop-in-the ocean of BIM ignorance.

So, for those that advocate for high level of mandated BIM for government clients, here is a suggestion: why not establish a calculable BIM coefficient that will reflect the ratio of BIM saturation within any one company?
What better way to establish true and robust scrutiny for public providers to be judged on?

Not quite sure yet what the formula would look like, but something that would reflect the number of people being truly BIM literate in relation to the entire population of the company, as well as the number of real BIM projects measured against  all of the work of the entity.
Someone clever with numbers could probably tweak such formula to reflect the length of combined BIM experience (again related to the overall size and age of the organisation) and true depth of the hands-on BIM capabilities as opposed to the shallow make-believe BIMs  dreamed up by marketing and business development departments.

Anyone with a suggestion, drop me a line.

Image from here:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A very long engagement…

….or why the UK Government’s custodians of its mandatory-BIM implementation (set to start in 2016) should be doing more proactive pocking around the world’s other mandated BIM projects already under way….

“The honeymoon is over!”
You often hear it said for AEC projects, time-wise somewhere about 1/5th into the project.
Or a bit sooner, or a bit later, depending on the myriad of different factors that make every AEC project unique.  
But on almost any construction project carried out around the world, the somewhat forced optimism of new beginnings will eventually turn into the ‘first variation/change order’ and the ‘first disagreement’ over the scope, time, workmanship or anything, really.
There also almost always is someone on the project team to officially mark this event as the ‘honeymoon is over’ point, if for no other reason but to be able to say ‘I told you so’, later.

When it comes to the UK Government’s mandating of BIM on their public projects starting in 2016, we will have to wait for this point for a while.
Due to clever and long term planning, they have not even entered the ‘honey-moon’ stage as such, sticking to the same line of clich├ęs, they would barely be halfway through the engagement period.

Was this intentional or just a happy coincidence?
Set ‘the engagement period’ at a pretty long time like reluctant lovers happy with their current status or ones that like to enjoy the feeling of getting there but not quite being there with all of the responsibilities of needing to make it fully work?

Is this the case of setting aside enough time to get someone career off the ground, allow others to make it into retirement on a high note before reality hits or just stretching the time for someone else to get through the teething problems?

I have previously aired my views on the ‘soon to come’ mandatory BIM for public projects in the UK exercise.
And while many ‘in the know’ jumped quickly to crush my attempt to start a meaningful discussion, some tiny sparkles of interest in a bit more scrutiny of this ambitious undertaking flashed up here and there.

A year ago, as part of one of my own academic task-sets I had made an attempt to research deep enough for an objective picture of the ‘why-s’ of such a big decision behind the UK government to form and was going to carry on with the ‘how-s’ afterwards.

Contrary to accusations I collected  in response to this attempt, I was not just in ‘to knock it down’ but was genuinely interested if a group of presumably more experienced and clever people (than I am) would come up with answers to questions that have nagged at me for decades.

Would mandating BIM on anything, anywhere make a real difference to its effectiveness, would it truly lead to a ‘better’ industry, would the benefits really land in the ‘right’ hands (the taxpayer in this instance) – would it evolve into a decent approach beyond the marketing cloud of proprietary tools it now is?

Needless to re-state, I did not get very far with the officials in charge of the project, requests for some ‘hard data’ on what the likely outcomes of the approach will be, were answered with speculative theories, (by now decades old) BIM-fluff, often bordering on ‘wishful thinking’ and outright ‘mother knows best’ attitude.

What could have put an end to any further questioning from my side (and some more directly impacted parties, like the UK taxpayer) would have been the presentation of some facts gained through true lessons learned from mega projects currently going on around the world driven by similar ideas of BIM use.

Let me again name 3 construction projects that by now have had at least 12 months of steady ‘mandated BIM’ applied to them:

Qatar Rail Project in Doha
MTR Line 11 in Hong Kong
Midfield Terminal Project in Abu Dhabi

Admittedly, these projects regularly pop-up in global BIM conferences ‘pretty pictures’ parts of the proceedings – but what is missing is a genuine, on-going scrutiny that would truly enlighten the global industry if its assumptions are indeed valid for large scale mandatory BIM implementation.

I’m not talking big industrial secrets revealed to wide audiences, not suggesting free access to confidential financial assessments but a meaningful and as much as possible dispassionate commentary that encourages those that have concerns about the ‘accepted theories’ to air them publicly.
Many other industries manage to share knowledge globally that goes beyond the fluff, so why not the AEC?

The excuse, that these projects are far from the UK and of different scale does not wash at all in current times, when all the projects I listed have some form if not quite significant UK-originated participation to them, be that in advisory or execution roles.

Was it not Balfour Beatty that recently announced that their Power Transmission Gulf (PTG) part of Balfour Beatty's U.A.E. based joint venture BK Gulf LLC had been awarded a £58.4 million joint venture contract to carry out Mechanical Engineering services on the new Abu Dhabi International Airport Midfield Terminal Building (MTB)?

So, here I see a great opportunity for the UK-BIM steering committee to collect some hard data by closely following how BB is dealing with a fully mandated BIM project.
Another of BB’s subsidiaries in Hong Kong is heavily involved on a number of big BIM projects, one I mentioned above. Could they report on how that one is going?

As an added happy coincidence, it is worth noting that Andrew McNaughton, Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty plc, had not that long ago been appointed by HM Government to be a Business Ambassador promoting the British infrastructure capabilities to an international audience. (from BB source)

What better opportunity for this ambassador to serve his country, the company that employs him and the global AEC but to exercise his diplomacy and act as a connection for real life case-studies to be made available to the UK taxpayers?
It could be a priceless gift to their representatives and possibly the peace of mind of working with a real-iconic UK company, with such outstanding leadership and pedigree to validate their theories.
I’m certain that the UK citizens on whose behalf (big) money is being spent, en masse will be delighted to have a bit of scrutiny done before they launch into the big thing themselves and may just learn a thing or two about one of their golden contractors on the way.

Even ‘very long engagements’ tend to come to an end at some point.

Picture from here:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Everything you ever wanted to know about the AEC industry you can learn from Danny Ocean’s – Ocean Thirteen

I received a message recently, noting that I had become ‘top contributor’ in the BIM Experts Group on LinkedIn. As much as the label pleases, it is a bit strange, since most time I write to this forum or any other BIM related one, I tend to be questioning the views of the majority of globally active BIM-enthusiast or even worst, quickly get classified as ‘a troll’ because my comments are seen as discouraging if not downright negative and damaging to the future of the industry.

As much as I’d love to share the enthusiasm of those that believe ‘BIM is getting there globally’ (led by the UK or whoever else..) – slowly but surely, I’ll close off another year spent working hard in this field with the view, that BIM (as promoted still) is doomed and will fail sooner or later, unless the industry changes the fundamentals of its modus operandi.
And, I am not referring here to the ‘paradigm’ changes that BIM evangelist like to talk about that involve armies of change agents, champions and missionaries.

My view is that, until the industry becomes such that entities (people, companies) are truly and consistently judged by their results and are made accountable for them, BIM is just going to stay an expensive appendage to projects, a pretend improvement on processes, a perceived tax to pay to stay in certain parts of the market (refer to mandated BIM) a career path or a way to make a quick buck for a few BIM-wave riders;

Still, what gives me hope at the end of another year, that even though there are few and spread apart thinly, globally, there are others that get my point too.

If you want to see one obvious example, go and (re)watch Danny Ocean’s – Ocean Thirteen;
It shows multiples of very good and relevant examples of how the AEC and its participants operate in almost any environment (both the BIM infected and the ones that are not) and I may yet do a serious write-up on those one day.

For today, let me just quote a discussion between Al Pacino’s character Willy Bank and a member of the construction crew working on his project:

“I don't want the labor pains.
I just want the baby.”

Picture from here:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Aussie_BIM vs the UK_BIM, AKA the global BIM leaders (When and why had Graphisoft given up on their Australian ArchiCAD users?)

It all started with a nice little coincidence:
Last week, due to having some free time to roam the earth between two jobs (the future one yet to be fully defined) and having not seen my eldest daughter for 2 years, I visited her in Melbourne, where she now lives and works.
Parallel to this little personal event, a BIM author I’ve previously critiqued on my blog for representing the UK BIM as unjustly superior to the rest of the world had published a new writing, this time with the following title:
“UK professionals are seen as world leaders in BIM adoption but now we must let the Australians tackle BIM challenges their way” (ref 1)

I will not jump-in ‘wholesale’ to defend the development and status of BIM in Australia, I have not the qualification, relevant experience nor specific data to do so, but would definitely expect some heavy-weights from ‘the country of dangerous creatures ‘to seriously challenge this writing.
Let me just mention a few basic points that come to mind:
·         For example the work of prof Mark Burry: he moved to Melbourne in the mid 1990s – by then a visible and globally respected BIM figure.
(the author, Mr Peter Barker – according to his LinkedIn page – (ref 2), was working as an Architectural Technician on the other end of the world at this time, maybe that fact can be used as a mitigating factor for him missing out on any of prof Burry’s work, though Gaudi’s Sagrada  (ref 3) – one of is his ‘real’ projects, is remarkably close to where Mr Barker lived and worked and has been/still is a forever cool subject in the Architectural fraternity)
·         On the other end of the spectrum, even the (from my angle seen as) notorious buildingSMART chapter in Australia can comfortable claim to have been active since 1994 (it was called something else in those times) (ref 4) with its chair (forever) Mr John Mitchell promoting various ideological forms of BIM ever since I’ve been BIM-ing myself, and that is getting close to 2 decades.

But, even if the academia and the various industry organisations select to stay quiet and accept to be labelled ‘BIM-backward’ by the UK experts, what about Graphisoft and other software suppliers active in the region?

See, once upon a time, some decade or so ago – BIM (or VC) and Graphisoft (with ArchiCAD) were doing very well in Australia (and New Zealand)!

In 2004 as an employee of the NZ distributer of the software, I personally organised a string of extremely well attended seminars held by David Sutherland, the director of FKA, (ref 05) designers of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne (ref 05) and celebrated power-users of ArchiCAD.

So successful was Mr Sutherland in selling the concept of BIM (or VC) to the architects of NZ that even after many years had passed I was repeatedly told by the director of the competing software company (AutoDesk) that these seminars were the turning point for many of his clients to step up from 2D to 3D.
In 2004 David Sutherland was talking not only about the technology and its use in their Australian and globally operating business but also how it reformed the way his company worked, how they become more productive and better hands-on as designers.
FKA was not the only cutting edge BIM company that pushed the boundaries of BIM using ArchiCAD in Australia in the early 2000s – Rice Daubney, Woods Bagot and others did too.

My point is, Graphisoft and ArchiCAD were doing OK in OZ then.
Making progress. getting somewhere.
Their results were well beyond what Mr ‘Know It All UK BIM Expert’ would give them credit for now, even a decade ago, based on the tone of his lecture in the print.

Yet, Graphisoft had lost that battle, not just judging by my personal failure to land a simple ArchiCAD trainer role in Melbourne (ref 06, embarrassing, I know - my application did not even get acknowledged!) but also by Woods Bagot being all but Autodesk's poster boy these days.

Original article here:

My husband just pointed out that the original article can only get accessed by registered users;
This little quote from the same will hopefully make those reluctant to go that far intrigued (annoyed) enough to do so:

“Therefore the nation that surfs the waves on a white board, braves the rip tides, four metre great whites, and swarms of stinging jellyfish and comes back for more, can easily overcome the initial steps in BIM.
Australians love UK soccer, let’s ensure they love our UK BIM.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

‘Has he walked away from Leighton? Did the journalist know of them at all?’

(this is technically a blogpost that fits under the ‘gammon and friends’ interest of mine – though can be deemed to be a topic worthy of publishing to a wider audience – those with BIM interests working in the ME as well as global AEC participants, thus I’m publishing the link here too)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A SPECTACULAR BIM OFFER at a fraction of a price! Exclusively for the UAE and for a very limited time only!

Well informed people operating in the construction industry of the UAE will be aware of a circular released by the Dubai Municipality to all Consultants and Contractors working in Dubai notifying them, that it is has been decided to implement (Building Information Modelling) for all Architectural and MEP Works on projects of a certain type and size, starting from the 1st of January 2014.

In conjunction with this initiative and taking into account my personal circumstances, I am using this opportunity to offer up my skills for any UAE based contractor or AEC client impacted by this new rule;
My offer is:
A world class BIM service delivered by myself working as an employee based in their Dubai – or other UAE office.
Absolute commitment to work in the best interest of the company and assist them get to grips with what BIM really is and what it can do for both the company and its projects (in a positive as well negative way, i.e. how to mitigate risks that will inevitably creep in and inflict major damages for the uninitiated).  

Good news:
Those that know me and appreciate the value I bring to any job I get involved in will also know that this is a pretty good deal on offer.

Bad news:
There is still extremely few if any people or entities that truly do appreciate this;

What I ask in return:
  • Commit to a 6 months contract at 25,000 UAE Dirhams salary/month
  • Arrange and provide UAE sponsorship/visa for me and 2 teenage daughters
  • Allow me to use my software, approach and processes
  • (i.e. judge me by the results I deliver rather than how I do them)
  • Let me work max 6 days/week 8-9hrs/day              
  • Don’t limit or in any way control what I do after hours
  • (as long as it is not related to the company I’m contracted to);
Offer expires on the 3rd  of December 2013 (or when the supply is gone – first come, first served);

Personal note to Friends, colleagues (ex), acquaintances that this note ends up being sent to (by me or others):
This is not a spam, not a joke, not even desperation kicking in; (trust me I always have a Plan B)

Just a potentially pretty good deal for two savvy business partners – and if not interested – there is a ‘delete’ button on most computers these days;

Monday, November 18, 2013

BIM 101 for Andrew Hayward; Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance

On Sunday, August the 25th this year, within this blog I published the third instalment of the story I like to refer to as the ‘HK MTR BIM experiment’.

Although I was still very bitter over being fired mainly because of my actions related to this job (mainly, but not entirely) at the time of writing, I was still genuinely hoping to start an exchange of ideas going within the learned and even more importantly, experienced part of the global BIM community.
I was very eager not to breach confidentiality of the participants beyond quoting what was already out in the public domain. I definitely had no intention to create further cynicism towards mandating BIM, just wanted to call for caution, halt the horses of unbridled BIM enthusiasm that seemed to have driven some of the architects of the HK MTR’s 11xx line’s BIM framework as well as the creators behind many other large scale BIM initiatives currently in action all around the globe.

I wrote numerous blog-posts (at least the previously mentioned trilogy) I explained my story through a slideshow, with the help of my daughter, we turned it even into a youtube movie.
The reactions were meek, mooted, mostly negative, happening almost entirely behind closed doors, if anywhere.
Previously publicly available presentations on the goals and objectives of the grand ‘exercise’ were taken off air – then briefly put back just to disappear again for (I guess) good.
I suspect feverish modelling took place within many of the contractors’ offices to catch up with the dubious ‘3 month deadline’ so long gone, parallel with hastily amended specifications and briefs.
Could the entire line of contracts have been rewritten to suit the factual status of the job or had everyone just closed their eyes shut and hoped nothing bad will come out of this, I’ll probably never get to know, unless MTR ‘spills the beans’ 3 years down the track when the claims that were never supposed to happen due to the revolutionary BIM use still eventuate en masse?

For now, let me follow my colleague Andrew Hayward; (Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance) style who has bluntly dismissed my concerns of any wrong doings of Gammon on this case (as alleged by me and detailed on my other blog) and give him a just-as-arrogantly blunt lecture on BIM as set up on this large project by the HK MTR in collusion with their advisors and the actions that the directors of Gammon have taken to guide their project (and in turn BB) through this possibly fatal trap:

Timeline and background:
·         Sometime before 2012 Intelibuild had sold the idea of BIM being a great thing for MTR and employed ‘it’ at least on one project (West Kowloon Terminus project);
·         Sometime in 2012 MTR had negotiated and set in place a bunch of contracts with a number of contractors to build parts of the SCL (11xx) line and also obliged them to deliver those contract by following a highly prescriptive BIM approach.
·         This approach, though explained at a professional gathering where the CEO of Gammon was also presenting had somehow been missed by the bidders and later by the management of the project and the director in charge of BIM implementation. Missed and/or ignored.
·         As a result or due to some other reasons an unspecified amount of resources were spent by the project and the company on employing an alternative BIM, that was neither in line with what the client had asked for, nor had Gammon in house capabilities to deliver it.
·         An external consultant was hired to assist with the implementation of this non-complying BIM and engaged over a lengthy period of time.
·         I joined the company when it was close to the end of its 5th month of the contract. After my discovery of the mandated BIM and the 3 month cut-off I questioned the strategy of the project delivery team and the guidance given to them by the director in charge of BIM.
·         The struggle between them and me lasted around 6-8 weeks.
·         I foolishly assumed that the people in charge of the project truly wanted to tick all the boxes the client presented to them with minimal extra cost involved.
As in complying with the clients requirements, but also minimising the risk of unacceptable claims in the future and assisting the project delivery.
·         I had come up with various options of various risks and costs associated with each.
·         While all of this was happening the ‘alternative BIM’ set up by the BIM director carried on even though the goals or indeed results of it were not fully disclosed to me, yet all of it was technically under my portfolio. (The Head of Innovation reported to the BIM Director)
·         Even taking all its shortcoming into account, the MTR BIM spec had its heart on the right place and implemented correctly (or at least with the original intent intact) would have given the clients certainty beyond that normally awarded by contractors engaged on their projects.
·         The fact, that 8 months in their own contract Gammon was still trying to ‘all but wiggle out of this’ requirement is a testimony to their ‘special relationship’ with MTR.
·         The fact that they attempted to still get me take full responsibility for this non-compliance is a totally different story.
·         Or maybe it is not, just another part of the same one.
·         Either way, I got kicked out because I refused to implement a half-arsed approach to ‘a pretend BIM’, on the false pretence of saving money while probably much more money was being spent freely on BIM initiatives on this same project that benefited little more than the BIM director’s ego and his relationship with the alternative software and service supplier.

Everyone but me appears to treat this little incident as ‘water under the bridge’ and it could easily be seen a bit pretentious of me to think that me listing of these events will give Mr Andrew Hayward; (Balfour Beatty plc: Head of Ethics, Risk and Assurance) any new knowledge of what this ‘BIM thing’  is or may yet do to his ethics, risk and even assurance portfolio in the future.
But it may just get him to read up a bit on it and not just accept the assurance of any-old ‘BIM expert’ (even if he carries the reputation of a ‘trusted, talented director’) that things have all been done by the book.
Hong Kong may be a bit out of sight and out of mind but I’m not.

picture from here


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Isn’t someone missing here? (What is my problem with Autodesk?)

I get regular updates through my FB page on how the big event of The Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) planned for the 13th of December is shaping up.
See, not long ago I was setting up myself to attempt to become ‘a professional member’ of that organisation – saved some money on the application process by my quick exit from the town and anyhow, was not rating my chances high for passing the ‘bar’ (it was set pretty high!);

Still, the updates on successful sponsorships keep coming, so it looks like it will be quite an event.

There is one organisation visibly missing from the list (as published so far) of corporate sponsors and it is, Autodesk.
If I’m going to be cynical, I’ll predict that they will come in last minute with the overarching ‘super-sponsorship’ (whatever colour of ‘a gem’ that may be) or better still – no sponsorship at all, after all, most of the speakers will be falling over backwards to advertise their products, anyway.
Autodesk has sewn up the HK market. The global AEC too.

What is my problem with Autodesk?
In the end, they are ‘just’ a software provider, successful at what they are doing, why can’t I just let them be.
Their foot soldiers are pretty agreeable people world-wide. I’ve met many, worked with some.
I’ve learned AutoCAD on DOS, in 3D with no mouse in the early 1990s.
I owned professional licences of AutoCAD, Revit, Studio Max for many years.
I had my first training in Revit in 2004 and get around it OK.

My biggest problem is not that Revit is a ‘dog of a software’.
Although, it is.
Even if I consider the vastly superior ArchiCAD and the Bentley/Microstation range, all the more so Tekla and everything Trimble had collected over the last year or two - these tools, all together are still ‘so last century’.

As I do my own soul-searching on when did the AEC and I lose our connection so irrevocably, I go back to those late 80s-early 1990s, when things could go one way or other, not just for me, but AEC digital tool developments – probably not surprisingly in line with world-wide political changes.

3 things I can point to as relevant had their start in those years related to the global/big scale AEC:
1/ tendency to work hands-off was born (I call this large scale illiteracy)
2/ multi-national mega-sized consultancies were starting staking out new territories and were more often than not run by MBA’s as opposed to technically savvy people with some business skills.
3/ information management tool providers (unlike in manual drafting days) got given an unprecedented opening to influence a globally active industry.

The 1980-s AutoCAD was a good product for its time and the AEC industry;
It supported the thinking of the ‘old master builders’, thinking and working in 3D.

By the early nineties though, they stumbled on a much better recipe than pushing AEC into the digital 3D world.
They created the role of the ‘CAD manager’ and hooked them onto their products, or even more importantly the feeling of ‘power’ that these, up-to-that-point mostly average ex-draftsmen could now exercise over both their management and everyone below.
From that point, things were lost for the AEC – like smokers addicted at young age, these foot-soldiers become Autodesk’s slaves and savours for the following 2 decades.
For a while they backed the use of AutoCAD 2D to the hilt, no matter how much damage senseless production of uncoordinated 2D drawings and unthinking CAD people did to the industry, projects, clients.

When the pressure got a bit too much to ‘move with time’, (2 year old kids were playing 3D based computer games) they bought Revit (the business and the product) and have ever since been half-heartedly developing it.

They had various stages of marketing themselves as ‘Solution suppliers’, ‘trusted technology partners’ and whatnot – their loyal CAD managers got upgraded to BIM Managers – often even elevated to be the exclusive  ‘Change agents’ that ruled over highly sophisticated looking  ‘evolutionary or revolutionary‘ change management processes overseen by the ‘masters of the CAD/BIM universe’, Autodesk.
But, they did no good for the industry.

So finally, it is crystal clear for me, what my problem is with Autodesk and to large extents with all of the other current, mainstream AEC information management tool-and-system providers.

Knowingly or just by following the ‘crowds’ they all had become the ‘manipulators’ of the industry, and have a large share of responsibility to carry for why it is in such a bad shape, as it currently is.

There may have been a scantily clad ‘Emperor’ walking the industry when Autodesk first entered the market (in the eighties) and this is by no means their fault that the guy was a bit under-dressed, but over the last 2 decades the Emperor had lost all of its clothes while the Autodesk-machine has weaved the most beautifulness of garments around him and is doing fine from this financial/business/manipulation exercise globally, thank you very much.

Autodesk, as my first love and the biggest of cheaters is my number one disappointment and the one that wears the most of guilt in my mind of being a wicked manipulator.
The rest is not far behind, even though they may argue that the inertia and strength needing to fight the big boys took too much out of them to do anything else.

Sorry, you are all in the same arena and just by fluffing up the hot-air balloon of unrealistic, mostly undeliverable, make-believe, choice-driven, play nicely BIM probably as guilty as Autodesk of manipulating the industry into a corner, I don’t know if it can recover from, any time soon.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trust and confidentiality

A friend of mine asked me recently, how come I was not worried about being unemployable for life due to the ‘things I wrote about certain companies’ in my blog-posts over the last couple of years?
He also added that it would be a ‘brave bastard’ (his word) to employ me in any way after the things ‘I’ve been dishing up on certain ‘large’ entities…’
Jokingly, he finished his thoughts with questioning himself and if he should trust me any-more and at all  with any personal data – in view of my ‘behaviour’.
(this is a ‘seriously close’ friendship that has been in existence for close to 3 decades)

Forgive me, and my naivety, but what has the world come to?
The last time that I remember that I knowingly mislead anyone was when my daughter cut her knee on a jagged piece of mosaic (and I’ll tell that story separately one day, no big deal, really) –
I am as straight as they come.

I have a terrible memory to keep even the shortest lies going-on  and look after ’made up’ stories, so I say things as they are, keeps it easy for me.
Is this really such a big crime? I see fraud - I report it – if it gets not acted-on (in-house) eventually I write it up to the public to make its judgement on it.
Where I see negligence, incompetence that causes other parties lose money, I point it out.
First to the ones involved; then, if no one cares, to the ones above.
If the impacted party is too removed (like a public-client or society at large) I try to get the average ‘Joe Blogs’ take ownership of issues and start to care.
Mostly unsuccessfully.

It is construction after all. Concrete, bricks and mortar. Very un-sexy.
Not rocket science, not even medical stuff where answers to tricky questions would mean the difference between life and death.

We build buildings, small and large and the questions I raise are most often about how clients’ money is spent in construction processes. Spent or squandered;
Mostly wasted through blatant negligence.
And quite often we do talk of a lot of money
And more often than not, ‘people’ do not want to know.
Construction is, as it is. Everyone knows: Uncertain.
Bless it’s heart AND keep it that way!
So much easier for everyone to keep their highly paid jobs!

Still, just because I publicly say any particular company is incompetent to build any building to a set budget and set time-frame, and the impacted party is more than happy 'to forgive', should I be the one and the only one left penalised?
Should I be the one to see all my friends shy away from telling me little friendly secrets, because I'm a certified ‘nark’?
This ‘fact’ is hard to accept.
It would be the other way in almost any other industry
Bring me the Mafia, any day!

One can be a defence attorney or part of a public prosecution team and have a proper social life.
One can work as an auditor for any IRD and still get workplace gossip handed down freely.
One can even be an ‘f…’-en parking warden and still keep seeing friends.

Why can’t I speak frankly about the global AEC and stay employable, let alone retain a handful of friends that will share a joke or two with me?

Is it because this industry IS more rotten than the medical, judicial and political sector combined together?
Could be! Think about it!
Go back to that ‘watchdog idea’ I wrote about a couple of weeks ago just as a reminder…

(picture here is taken 24.5 year ago when I become an architect –soon to turn into an unemployable, highly over-qualified, dangerous nark! Maybe not as soon as I faired , but it happened, anyway)