In the drive to adopt BIM Level 2, John Eynon, Owner/Director of Open Water Consulting, argues that we should all be helping each other
I found this statement on the website BCG Digital Ventures a while ago:
“Corporations will own the next horizon of innovation.
“We have entered a decade of disruption of large corporate business models, driven by a step change in the power of technology and the audacity and speed of start-ups.
“To be fit for the future, visionary companies will deliberately reimagine themselves by injecting or attacking established models with new ideas fuelled by technology.”
Sounds appropriate, doesn’t it? The transition of our lives to digital is inevitable and is confronting us all; only some are still holding back even now. How long can they hold out before the avalanche overwhelms them?
You might remember Basil Fawlty and the Germans sketch – don’t mention the war! (If you’re a Millennial or late Gen Y, then I apologise – this is Boomer/GenX humour!)
There is a lot of talk about BIM Level 3, and certainly, the BIM Task Group focus has shifted, as seen by recent media. That’s fine; we need to know what’s next and where we are going. But I don’t want anyone to see this as an opportunity for the abnegation of responsibility or commitment to developing and ensuring industry-wide BIM Level 2 adoption as soon as possible. For all the talk about Level 3 and beyond, if we don’t see a move to Level 2 across our whole industry within the next few years, you can forget Level 3, it won’t happen. Simples.
Dear people – Level 2 is but a staging post on the journey, to get us all used to the concepts of using digital tools and shareable asset data in a consistent, structured and accurate way across the industry. This then gives us a robust platform to move forward and progress together.
The BIM mandate has driven a lot over the last five years for central government departments, but the next tier down of public sector organisations and the private sector are left to rely on a combination of push and pull from the rest of industry. This has left many with a convenient excuse; “Well if the client isn’t asking for BIM why should we do anything?” or; “It’s a private sector project, the mandate doesn’t apply to us”. The mandate has let too many, the majority probably, off the hook on this. Reliance on push/pull, peer pressure and client drive takes a lot of time, effort and support. In fact, recent stats show how the spending profile in the industry has changed. Public sector funded projects account for less than 25% of our industry. So “The Mandate” applies to 25% of the industry, so we need to find a different kind of conversation for the rest of industry. Not forgetting we need to influence something like 2,000,000 people by 2020 in the process.
Don’t mention it!
In some quarters it has become fashionable to “not mention BIM Level 2”. Which I think is missing the point of where we are isn’t it? However successful you are, and however good you are, you will need to be reliant on someone else at some point. So how good are they? Because their capability will affect your ability to deliver. There is a much bigger picture here.
The BIM hothouse
In the cosy BIM choir hothouse that has developed over the last few years, it’s warm, it’s hot, it’s nice to have our colleagues and friends, and we think the same way and have our shared stories. Keep drinking the Kool-aid chaps – you’ve invented your own version of a virtual reality. The only problem is that it’s detached from the real reality we face every day in the industry.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s lots of great stuff being done to progress BIM by a lot of good people, but we are far from the point where we can say BIM Level 2 is a done deal for everyone.
Repetition, repetition, and …
To keep repeating the messages around Level 2 doesn’t make great news and in fact, it’s quite boring, isn’t it?
But isn’t that what we really need?
Sure you can take the view that if they can’t be bothered to learn, they can catch up when they’re ready, which again is missing the point. It’s interesting to me that few look beyond their own commercial self-interest; not surprising I suppose – in evolutionary terms, I guess in the end it doesn’t matter, blood will be on the floor, careers and businesses will still end anyway, however “successful” we are. Believe me the reckoning is coming; chickens will come to roost, turkeys will vote for Christmas and the sky, metaphorically, will fall down. The transition will be messy, and famous names will disappear into oblivion. There will be pain. Some will succeed, and some will fail. We can see this from other industries. But those that adopt early, and drive through the learning curve, even if you started right now, would be in good shape by 2020. It’s not too late – yet.
I’d like to minimise the pain and we can, but it has to be a collective effort. Millennials aren’t the issue, you see it’s the Boomers, GenXers and the rest stuck in the middle. People in mid to late career who will face challenging times when they really don’t want to. They can’t dodge this.
Long tails and BIM at the cliff edge
As the cutting edge move off to BIM Level 3 and beyond, the already long tail of our industry is stretching even further behind.
But remember, your BIM CDE is only as good as all the stakeholders including the supply chain that is able to use it. This is the real challenge for some of the supply chain at the lower tiers at the moment. If they can’t participate effectively, then your lovely BIM just falls off a cliff – what then?
Impact and influence
Let’s be honest and look at the impact we’ve had over the last five years. How much of the industry has been influenced to change? How many are still sitting on the sidelines for whatever reason?
We’ve already created a two-speed perhaps more/3/4/5 speed industry. It will only get worse if we don’t change and start to look beyond our own interests and help give each other a leg up. Otherwise, Level 3 will just become a digital island in an analogue sea/industry. Modernise or Die, thus sayeth Mark Farmer. (Awesome report – read it!)
The cost or the price?
You might say “well so be it”, that’s the price of change and advancement – companies will die, careers will end or change path. And I guess that is true, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We could say that the Mandate didn’t go far enough. But we are where we are, and the Level 2 framework we now have is the envy of the world and rightly so.
THE change – me change – you change
We can change the course of history. We can make this work. We have to learn to help each other and work together, and this comes down to leadership. In fact, it comes down to you and I. The will to go first, not to wait, but to reach out, and work together.
But let me say that all again.
YOU can change the course of history. YOU can make this work. YOU have to learn to help us work together better. YOU can make a difference. Right now. Today. And every day.
A butterfly flaps its wings in Australia, resulting in flooding in Cumbria. Chaos theory. Small actions and changes can make a big difference and unforeseen and great impacts.
Remember Just Do It, or affectionately, JFDI? We know what the F means. Now is not a time to keep on talking and over thinking anymore. Time is running out and the sands of time are no longer on our side. Pressures for change gather both within and without our industry. The guillotine falls, the window closes.
We have talked and talked. We have the reports and studies. It is time to act, reach out and pull our recalcitrant industry up by its bootlaces and yank it kicking and screaming into what will be very soon the 22nd century.
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John Eynon BA. BArch. RIBA. MAPM. FCIOB. CEnv. MIET.
Open Water Consulting
Tel: +44 (0)1273 956965