Friday, October 27, 2017

Next EBIMUG meeting on Monday, 30. October, 6:30pm at Canadian University Dubai

The Invite from the organizers, as far as I know you can turn up, no registration needed.

“Dear BIMmers,It is my pleasure and privilege to invite you to the October meeting of the Emirates BIM User Group.

We will meet Monday, 30th October at 6:30 in room B2-03 of the Canadian University Dubai. Upon entering the main entrance of CUD turn left and follow down the corridor to Block B. Inside Block B take the stair to the first upper floor and find room B2-03 at that level.

We will have two presentations: Zolna Murray will talk about “The future of BIM is paperless, literally”

Florian Techel will talk about “How (not) to convert a marketplace towards a new (BIM) paradigm

We look forward to welcoming you on October 30th.

The presentations will be recorded and shared afterwards.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Are BIM promoters guilty of underplaying the extent of self-development required from the ‘average Joe’ building participants to make even a relatively small-scale BIM project work?

There was an election in New Zealand recently and the country again has a woman Prime Minister, a young one too, full of charisma, charm and a promise to ‘make New Zealand a fantastic place (again)!’
I wish her and the country success. I really do. But I also cannot help but note, that what she needs to do is undo 20 or so years of damage and do that through measures that will be unpopular and possibly unacceptable for most of New Zealand Citizens.

So, the likely change in the things that matter (housing, education, health and poverty)? I’d say, very little. This has nothing to do with me being negative, but with people’s general inability to part with own privileges for some common good.

For small things, yes – we will have a home-bake to support this cause or that, we will crowed-fund for some poor sick kids’ surgery overseas, donate to build a Church Hall or School Gymnasium, but accepting (say) to have our own house’s ‘value’ slashed by a third so the property market is more accessible to the masses while locking the speculators out through special Government measures?
No way!

The entry to this blog is meant to set the tone, for another wakeup call in a topic close to my heart, that is the uptake of BIM within the industry and its relation to the chances of BIM exercises to succeed.

For a long time, I have been saying, that the real success of any BIM endeavor is the level of uptake of the people involved on the project.
If BIM is to succeed, it must become the language of the industry.
Any language that is spoken by a minority of those making up an environment, will struggle to make any impact and is likely to die out.
While we have highly capable BIM people across the board, the rest are at best ‘readers’ of the language (if trained to use viewers) but readers do not necessary make good language users as they really lack the depth of full literacy.

For example, if a house is built and the architect (maybe a sole, hands-on operator), other consultants and the builder can all meaningfully read and contribute to a BIM model, the uptake could be considered high.
At the other end of the scale, a huge airport development may have its own BIM department (of say 50 people) but the number of other ‘non- BIM literate’ people on the job will be in the thousands, therefore that percentage of BIM uptake will be significantly lower.

See, BIM can nowadays get introduced to almost any project, if you push the ‘right button’ (mandating, client pressure etc.) and most parties involved will ‘oblige’.
But that does not mean much really, as, as long it is possible both people and companies will try to conform to expectations without doing anything ‘radical’. 
Because, ‘radical’ means two things, enhanced level of risk and extra money to spend.
(possibly a lot of it).

People that have spent any time spreading the gospel of BIM, know in their hearts that there is no straightforward way around this. They must know.

Just like NZ’s new Prime Minister must know – that one’s own enthusiasm and wish for change can only go so far, if not matched by the masses putting their shoulders to the ‘wheel’.

Yet, they (the BIM promoters) are rarely seen explaining how truly difficult is to get one single person (from an age, say 30+) convert into a useful BIM-mer, let alone an entire project team or a company.
It is as difficult as making someone shed 10kg, be fit enough to run a half Marathon or learn a new language.

Yet, even those that know this, will hide it from their clients.
Instead, most self-styled BIM specialists will happily draw up implementation plans, with entries like ‘identify a BIM champion’, ‘train people in Nawisworks’ ‘set up internal libraries and standards’ etc. etc.

If challenged they will say things like, ‘change takes time’, ‘every little step matters’, ‘you can take the horse to the water, but you cannot force it to drink’….  

I disagree. There are times, places, issues where time is of essence.
Where half-hearted attempts to change, just will not cut, where little steps will end up being steps in place or going backwards, where someone needs to lead with honestly and real conviction, but also have the power and means to deliver, even through measures unappealing to individuals.

Going back to the language parallel, one can speak a language badly, poorly, incorrectly – but for someone to be considered fluent in it, there is a minimum threshold of competencies to have.

A similar threshold can be established for BIM competency for participants of any project, however this concept is something that most BIM promoters get extremely uneasy about. Because, they know (but are scared to say) that getting all of the non-BIM speaking ‘average Joes’ of construction projects to that minimum threshold is an extremely difficult job.

Yet, this would possibly do more good than all other attempts together to make a real breakthrough in re-establishing a speaking-reading-writing industry.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

BIM can’t change the industry, only the industry can change the industry!

I don’t often quote myself from the past (or I don’t think, I do) but when recently, FB popped up with a message from 5 years ago, I felt the need to do so.
The post was a link to an article that BIG Project ME (link at the bottom of the page) published on my blog 5 years ago.
Apart from the fact that almost every part of the write-up is relevant now, there were parts of the article that sounded quite ‘profound’ even when scrutinized by the self-mocking cynical BIM- self, of the present days.

Take the sentence from the title and its context:
“BIM can’t change the industry, only the industry can change the industry. The industry can change the industry and only by being determined to do so, as opposed to simply saying it wants to change.
BIM can help of course, by assisting those that recognize where the industry is lacking an ability to self-repair, by providing smart tools and processes.”

But the patting of own back for coming up with such ‘deep thoughts’ disappears as I do a bit of math.
I consider myself to be an active BIM practitioner since 1995. That is 22 years. 5 years out of 22 is about 22%. That is a pretty large chunk of a lengthy career where something I cared about deeply then (and now too, to some extent) had not matured much, in-spite of massive efforts by many, to get it grow and ‘change the industry for better’.
I know that many find this repeated statement of mine (how Global BIM has stopped growing some years ago) annoying and even deeply insulting to the good people of BIM, but for me it is what I see.
People also say, I read the situation to be so grim, because I ‘mix with the wrong crowds’ and am unaware of the exact shape of BIM globally, but if things were going that greatly by now the successes would have filtered down to the masses and ‘best practices’ become ‘everyday practices’ even in the unsophisticated circles I move in.

So, apologies for all the honest BIM folk out there, but the ‘one step at the time’ and ‘any improvement is better than no improvement’ does not sit well with me on this topic.

For the industry that is notoriously incapable on delivering on self-imposed targets within its core areas, to accept that its most heralded improvement program is totally underperforming and do nothing to acknowledge that and come up with a Plan B, is at the least disingenuous if not straight misleading.

‘Stop winging and come up with alternatives’ is the other most reoccurring comment I get – I believe I have in the past but to those that missed the little gems of positive suggestions within my writings, there will be a full lecture I will be giving to the Dubai BIM Group on the 30th October at the Canadian University.

The content will be made available on this blog in some form.
In the meantime, read the 5 year old article:   

Friday, October 6, 2017

Today’s Global BIM is in worse shape than the one we started off 20 years ago (Note to myself: Brace for hate-mail)

‘What is BIM?’ – is probably the most off-putting intro question to anyone listening to a BIM presentation that a speaker can pull up, yet it comes up time after time at BIM conferences and lectures.
In a way, I understand why that is – audiences generally vary in their understanding of BIM to such extent, that speakers feel obliged to always start from the beginning.
And then, there is another troubling issue about the question – the answer is actually NOT that obvious, and it varies from application to application.

For example, while almost everyone publicly agrees that no-one software (not even Revit) equals BIM – all sorts of other descriptions are likely to float around, from simple ‘one word’ depiction to highly complicated bullet-pointed explanations.

I used to like the word ‘approach’ for it, being a ‘language’, ‘a set of tools and processes’.

These days, if pushed, I say that BIM is merely a combination of a specific set of ‘Attitude and Commitment’ which leaves people usually dumbfounded and me alone.

Regardless of its name (I know, the acronym has been only around since Autodesk had invented it) or what it means for people, there are reliable ways on measuring its effectiveness and ‘maturity’ in the current day BIM market.

Still, while numbers should always reflect real pictures, statistics and surveys generally are a bit flawed and subjective, leaning to the expectation of their compilers.

So, those that claim BIM to be in a pretty good shape and maturing according to preset programs across the board, are likely to have some vested interest in making it look better than it really is.

Others, like me, that state, that the real impact (positive) on the global AEC made by the last 2 decades of BIM-push has been negligible are, also most likely blinded by their disillusionment due to the failure of their own endeavors.

Nevertheless, I stay firm behind the statement, that regardless of the good work of many people, honest intentions and lots of money, BIM had made not much more than a little dent in the ineffectiveness, sluggishness and generally archaic ways that the global AEC is run.

Worse even from that fact, it did little to improve the processes (don’t believe me, go to weekly meetings of medium to large projects), it had done almost nothing to increase accountability and decrease corrupt practices that plague the industry.

Yes, people create BIM bunkers, walk around with lasers, VR headsets and iphone models, but these are few and far between, are often just a gimmick, and most definitely operate below the magic line of real decision (and money) makers of the industry.

If I publicly ask for anyone to name a Project Director of a largish project with BIM competency, I am sure people will throw lots of names in the basket, but my experience (on lots of large and very large projects) is that there are NO Project Directors, Commercial Managers, Lead Planners, Control Managers, Project Managers that can be trusted with anything even close to ‘real BIM’ (or very, very few).
Sure, many will happily ‘chew the fat’ on the topic, but all their experience would be second hand, through others doing it for them.

Going back to the title, I seem to remember that 20+ years ago, when I started on BIM (that still had no name for it) it was much more fun to be involved with the movement.
Skeptics will say, that was no BIM, just 3D, but the fact is that I used 3D for documenting full buildings from the first day I learned ArchiCAD (4.5), applied appropriate materials (meta data!) – and jumped on the first opportunity of doing 4D models when I came across, the then extremely buggy and highly temperamental Construction Simulation. Furthermore, persisted using it for years, in spite of a scary number of failed movie making attempts and sleepless nights.

I also recall, that the BIM people of that era were approaching ‘issues’ with more criticality than the somewhat blind enthusiasm and misguided loyalty (to various parties)  of those now in charge do.
I hate to say (but must), the average IQ of BIMmers seemed to be a notch or two higher as well, even though the numbers involved may have been quite a bit lower, than now.

Internet was in its very early stage and emails still clunky, but the ArchiCAD worldwide support group moderated by Djordje Grujic was legendary.
You could put up questions at night New Zealand time and have numerous answers by real (not just self-styled) gurus next morning.

Sure, it was not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows – the industry shunned us, happy to hire AutoCAD seamstresses by the dozens instead, many typing faster in lisp than talking in their own mother tongues, rather than even consider anything more than flatCAD.
CAD managers taunted us for file sizes and line types and fonts and RAM.
We were the weirdoes of the time, but we still felt we were the future.
I did, anyway.

Nowadays, I see no future for BIM, the way it is being pushed by flaky mandates, super-large companies ‘polished up global BIM policies’ and across the board reluctance to accept any criticism, reality checks or change of courses set by ‘standard makers’.
I say, I see no future for current BIM. But I do see future for something else helping the industry and maybe, just maybe able to bring the spark of the ‘early BIM times’ back to the oldies and the new wizzes of the industry.

I will explain it all at a presentation I will be holding on the 30th October 2017 at the Canadian University in Dubai.
Still working on a possible webcast, but if that does not happen, there will be a youtube video for those unable to come, but interested.