In all the talk of technology and digital transformation, we must never forget that it’s people who ultimately determine a project’s success – or otherwise, says John Eynon
The scene is the roof of the tower block where The Matrix agents are holding Morpheus prisoner – Neo lies prone on the ground, an agent towering over him, gun pointed ready for the kill. Neo had dodged most of the bullets in the battle using his nascent abilities but his belief had failed with the last bullet, which sent him to the ground.
“Only human,” the agent says. He is about to fire but Trinity surprises the agent. Holding her gun to his temple she says: “Dodge this” and the rest, as they say, is history.
There are now so many apocalyptic films and stories foretelling the rise of machines and impending doom for humankind. I haven’t seen one yet with a happy, peaceful ending!
It seems there is not a happy ending to be had anywhere!
Perhaps the digital transformation of our industry will not have a peaceful, happy ending either. Perhaps the jury is out? Discuss!
While delivering a Level 2 BIM Manager course recently, there was one QS who seemed really disappointed that the BIM model didn’t just do her job for her! The current state of where we are wasn’t up to her expectations.
In time, perhaps Artificial Intelligence combined with the BIM technologies we use will reach a point where we just say “I want a house” – it asks you a few questions and just goes away and does it. But not now!
Are we there yet?
While AI in the future might do that, we are not quite there yet. Humans are still needed in the process; after all, aren’t we who it’s all for in the first place?
Recently, it has forcibly struck me that we talk about digital transformation, process, standards, plans, checklists, programmes, execution plans and all the rest of the plethora of stuff we produce to make a project happen. It’s easy to get carried away with all of these things.
However, none of these things actually make the project happen on their own!
It’s people. It’s us.
It’s all about people
For all our plans, flowcharts and checklists, it’s the people doing it that make it happen. Perhaps therein lies the problem. People are not robots.
Successful projects are not delivered by what’s in the contract, the management plan or – god forbid! – the BIM Execution Plan. Successful projects are delivered by successful teams of people working together effectively, collaborating.
Just because it’s in your plan or on your checklist doesn’t mean it will happen as you want – the person responsible needs to want to do what you want.
Wonderful! That’s the beauty of working with people. Any given day you never quite know what you’re going to get!
It’s nice to be needed
For all the data, software and tech available to us now, there still needs to be the human input and view. And this will be so for generations to come.
For all the information that is thrown at us every day, for all the stuff that BIM and the like throws at us, there is still the need to look at the outputs and ask: “Does this look and feel right? What about XYZ?”
On being only human
Our intelligence, creativity and ability to synthesise and integrate across all kinds of boundaries and information sources means we are still vitally needed.
BIM won’t do it for us. It can’t of its own volition. Some recent tweets about the “failure” of BIM are enlightening. BIM is like a screwdriver. It’s a tool. If you want to blame anything, blame the people!
Technology, process and people
We often talk about these three aspects in BIM implementation, but we all know the tech is the easy bit and with process there’s more legwork involved, but people?
Getting people to change their behaviours, ingrained habits, views, and cultural peccadillos? Much, much harder! As we all know. So, there is the beauty and the pain.
We can be wonderful in so many ways, and plumb the depths of experience in so many others!
We all have to adapt and respond now, whatever our role, whatever our place in the food chain. We are all technologists, we are all life-long learners. And you will have to be if you want to keep up!
The human dimension
I guess, in conclusion, mine is a simple plea, really. That in all our enthusiasm and excitement about BIM, technology and digital transformation, let’s not forget that it is our humanity that makes this work. That is the heartbeat. The reason for doing. So our communities and environment can be better.
In all the change you plan, remember your people. Because ultimately, they will be the ones who make you succeed or fail!
Now there’s a thought!
John Eynon is an architect, design manager and BIM champ. He writes, lectures and talks. You can catch up with him at www.zenandm.com.
Open Water Consulting