Saturday, February 23, 2013

Zero Fluff Policy (ZFP) – an alternative to the British Government’s way of mandating BIM on AEC projects

The British Government got it all wrong with regards to its plan to use BIM to fix-up its ailing AEC industry.
Admittedly, they weren’t exactly calling the industry ‘ailing’; neither where are they labelling BIM specifically as a ‘fix up-tool’, but that is what I read between the lines of both the original Strategy Paper published in 2011 and the "Pipeline for Growth" report put out at the end of 2012.
Most of BIM commentators, even those a bit remote from that particular market and ones that are normally prepared to be a bit cynical of ‘artificially pumped up BIM hype’ appear to find this government’s actions to be all positive.
Their comments echo the official mantra with its coats of sugar, then they add their own truckload of PC type encouragement: how every step in the right direction counts, how time will tell, how the proof will be in the pudding, how one must not discourage the proactive governments by criticising them, how absolutely fabulous and brave they are and… anyway, why get bogged down with the details when top experts in the field are publically declaring that the British BIM is the best in the world already…
(references available if anyone IS interested in the details)…

Time will tell I agree, how silly, ineffective, pompous and arrogant this approach is (was) but it will take years, decades even – thanks to the fact that the wheels of the global (and especially big-business) AEC grind even slower than those of justice systems, often quoted.

So why wait for the grinding to be fully completed and the ashes of failed BIMs finally get scattered over the corpses of many, at present still yet-to-be built public buildings?

Instead why not be BOLD NOW and try out something that I guarantee will make a positive difference to the industry and deliver results within 12 months of a launch?
And just to make it more palatable for those that like to be PRESCRIPTIVE on the subject of HOW as opposed to the WHAT, this is a highly prescriptive approach.

I call it the xxx Government’s
(or any public/ private AEC client that is
now/or intending in the future to consume the services of the AEC industry)

Zero Fluff Policy (ZFP)

ZFP is built on a set of highly prescriptive requirements on how project information should be managed (by all info originators and/or editors, like design consultants, main and subcontractors) on (any) the AEC job:

1/ PDF – paper-sheet based and formatted, traditionally labelled, revision controlled, clouded drawings will be used for all communication between all parties and at all of the times, regardless of the stage of the project and/or participants involved.
2/ The numbers of drawings in the system will be strictly (and drastically) limited and policed relentlessly.
3/ All drawings will be managed electronically on a web based, fully searchable system. All drawings will have meta data attached to aid search;
4/ No written specifications will be allowed, everything will fit on the limited number of drawings (typically no project will produce more than 100 drawings; Absolute, mega project may go up to 250);
5/ No duplication of information will be tolerated, any discrepancy in information supposedly coming from one source found, will be rejected immediately and the originator penalised heavily.
6/ All drawings will be fully coordinated and buildable at any time, even at early stages of the project taking into account detail levels appropriate for design development. All drawings issued will always be of IFC quality, labelled such and an individual to take responsibility for this by a signature.
7/ The said individual will be made aware by the employing company that mistakes within the IFC documents will be traced back to him (or extremely unlikely, her) no matter how many companies he/she changes to escape being accountable for the flow on impacts those mistakes cost the project once construction begins.
8/ All drawings will be audited regularly (weekly) by an Independent BIM Authority and their comments forwarded to drawing authors. Immediate response will be required by all affected. Failure to respond in time or any repeated offence will be punished by dismissal of the entire company from the project.
9/ All participants will be contractually bound to pay SILD (Substandard Information - Liquidated Damages) – and these will be assessed monthly (based on failures to meet any of the requirements falling under points 1 – 5);
10/ SILD will be deducted from progress payments or if they turn out to be higher than progress payments due, from a bond provided by all contracted project participants at the outset of the project;
11/ SILD collected will be split into 3 equal parts and distributed monthly: 1 third to the IBA (Independent BIM Authority) agent on the project for work well done; 1 third to the client representatives on the project for accepting this crazy policy and 1 third shared out in the form of cream-doughnuts to regular citizens walking past the project in question;
12/ The acronym ‘BIM’ and anything associated with it will be exclusively used by those employed by the Independent BIM Authority; Any unauthorised and careless use of the term (or its derivatives) will be punished by dismissal.

You may want to comment on this hair-raising idea by joining this group:  E !BIM GROUP
This platform of alternative BIM views also allows you to share your own, inspiring, exhilarating, far-out or just generally provocative ideas on this topic.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To all the prima-donnas of the BIM world: Welcome to my Group!

Labelling me a prima-donna did it!
Call it a ‘coming out’ of sorts but when I looked up the meaning of it…
(‘A very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance.’)…
I thought, that’s it.
Time to set up a Group for BIM prima-donnas, like me… And, you know what?
If the membership stays at ‘1’ forever, I don’t give a toss…

I named the group E! BIM Group, where ‘E’ stands for ‘extraordinary’.

It is extraordinary, first, because it is set up to provide a refuge, a bunker to recover for ostracised BIM practitioners of ‘non-mainstream BIM-witchcraft’  that arrogantly enough still believe to be doing something good, positive, revolutionary, exceptional in fact!

It is extraordinary also, because it will not bow to the gods of ‘ordinary BIM’ that preach the forever-going on mantra of:
….LODs and national BIM standards and object libraries and CAD/BIM systems and BIM implementation plans and...clash detection of course...and… authoring programs…
Yet are unwilling to question global AEC corruption, incompetency to deliver projects, widespread and large-scale fraud, the sacred role of the drawing, mega-consultancies that set the rules…

It is extraordinary mainly, because ordinary BIM (as it is commonly known) does not work, has never worked and never will….
So, here is a platform to freely explore the alternatives.
There are alternatives! Welcome to my Group!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

With the UK Government mandating that all public sector projects will be delivered using BIM by 2016….

…Starts another email… A second like this, this week.
And one in many that I receive these days as various poor AEC vendor-souls try to enhance their market-share by clinging onto this rickety bandwagon…
No one knows what it means exactly, but most like it.
They can spell ‘BIM’, surely they can make advantage out of a regulatory-move like this somehow….

I know what it means exactly and I do not like it.

I agree, that a government as a building owner has the responsibility to ensure buildings are created in the best possible way for their owners; They need to get their ‘taxpayers’ the best value for money while adhering to all sorts of technical and social standards.
In order to get the best results, they are entitled to describe the outcomes in extremely high detail and be extremely demanding on what they will pay for or not.
They can also ask, that any end result (a building) is also accompanied by another, digital version of itself (‘as built’ – OM/FM ready model) and again be as demanding about its qualities as they see appropriate.

A bit like asking for a miniature remote controlled Hummer to be delivered when the real new one comes too.
Or a virtual, digital one of the said machine. No problem with this.

But, on what basis can a democratically elected government prescribe how the particular Hummer it is ordering for the stakeholders is made (to the last screw) without meddling with ‘means-and-methods’ of the delivery process itself knows so little about, as well as skewing up the market?
And a big market, that is.

One can think of similar interfering somewhat justified at the ‘production end’ of supply chains when sustainability is of concern, growing and supply of GM food, exploitation of child-labour or horse meet sold dressed up as beef.
But, constraining a large part of a chunky market to only those that will use only certain tools and only in certain way to achieve the results that are far removed from the tools themselves is dodgy.
It stops innovation, promotes corruption and works against the end user/payer of the bills.

Putting aside the professional/ethical reservations I have with this move, how practical is it at all?
How would the same voting public look at a government legislating, that from 2016 all legal/court hearings where ‘a’ citizen is involved and/or has some sort of a stake-in must be fully conducted in Latin.

No one speaks Latin at the prosecution side, hardly anyone at the defence end – but that will not stop us implementing it at all!
We just have to start somewhere, quickly create a ‘modern’, much more palatable Latin than the old, real one and give a free range to everyone to teach/learn.

Note to myself: must learn Latin by 2016.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who is qualified to select/hire competent senior BIM managers (heads/directors) for AEC companies?

This post is for HR people doing (or considering to get into) the recruiting of BIM-people for strategic, senior BIM roles within AEC companies.
It includes a very simple message and an easy to use tool.
Success is 100% guaranteed.

The message is this:
1.       Currently and globally there are very few people that are properly qualified to identify, assess, rank and recommend people that may become good strategic BIM leaders with the right training and support.
2.       There are altogether only a handful of good, senior level, strategically clued-up BIM ‘operators’ off-the shelf existing worldwide.
3.       Equally, there are similarly tiny numbers of top executives wanting a strategically placed BIM person high level in their company for the RIGHT reasons.

This message offers two additional lessons to note:
The likelihood of an HR person operating within AEC to be from group one (1) and to be given the opportunity to pair up representatives from the other two (2 and 3) is extremely low.
See above;
Because of the majority of group ‘number  3’ in the message above is extremely well established and strong in the field, you can place just about anyone in the position that has ‘BIM’ in its name or description as long as you use the tool described below correctly.

What you need to do (this is the tool):
1/ check that the client is definitely not an ‘enlightened, good 3’ – again, extremely unlikely but they do exist…so just to be on the safe side;
2/ ask for the serving CAD manager, BIM coordinator, incumbent visualizer, engineering manager, (or equivalent director, if the role is senior enough) to do the interviewing;
3/ do a good check-up on the weaknesses of the interviewer (start with the software packages that the company is ‘supposed to be using’ and how long have they been in their position);
4/ select a candidate that has moderate experience in the aforementioned software but is timid and will not challenge the interviewer, even if the role is on paper more senior than his/hers;
5/ sit back and enjoy your commission.

for further reading on a topic relevant to this one, check out my previous blogpost:

cartoon from here:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Answer this question quickly! What is worse: incompetency or fraud?

It is extremely likely that your first-impulse response to my question would be that of ‘fraud’.
People tend to feel pretty black-and-white about this question;
few would even question the question before obliging with an answer.

Given the time to mull over it, would you change or qualify your response?
Would it depend on the context, circumstances, people involved?
Would you judge it differently in a personal situation than considering what happens at your workplace? Would the scale of ‘offending’ impact on your judgement? Your relationship to the perpetrators?
Would you tolerate a little bit of fraud and a lot of incompetency or would it be the other way around?

I’ve been grappling with this question for some time, even more since a number of people in high-management positions have declared to me that any ‘evidence of fraud’ is of much more interest to them than stuff that is to do with ‘incompetency’ within their organisation.
And the higher you go, the answer becomes more and more in favour of the ‘fraud’, a negative sort of way.
But, do these two types of ‘qualities’ really sit on two opposite sides of ‘a’ spectrum or do they at times come scarily close to each other?
Can a high level of ‘incompetency’ within an organisation be classified as ‘fraud’ as well?
Is it really so much better to lead a company incompetent to do its business where people are on the surface ‘honest’, than, say a company that plays a bit on the dodgy side but is performing brilliantly and making a lot of money for the shareholders?
This logic seems too much at odds for what I observe as general behaviour of large companies and their mid-to-top level managers.

Now, you may wonder what all this has to do with BIM?
Quite a lot, really!
Being good at BIM makes one highly sensitive to detecting incompetency within an AEC company, which in turn gets one into trouble with those that knowingly cover up for it;
(and act fraudulently judged by the BIM-mer);

Speaking ‘BIM’ at a professional level is not unlike ‘seeing’ through people or reading their thoughts.
As arrogant this claim this may sound, it can weigh heavily on the said BIM-mer.
Being able to pinpoint dodgy practices quickly in projects small and large, companies private and public is a peculiar bi-talent to have.
An asset and a curse.

See, any manager worth his salt knows when incompetency should be classified as fraud.
When you know it and do nothing about it;
Best to know nothing.
A ‘hard to cope with’ sort of attitude for a truly good BIM-mer.