Managing change, embedding BIM


Dr Anne Kemp and Pamela Linton, Senior Programme Manager for Atkins discuss how to manage change in order to embed BIM across large organisations…

In a conversation held at the ICE BIM 2015 event in London, Dr Anne Kemp spoke to Pamela Linton, Senior Programme Manager for Atkins about the lessons learned from embedding BIM across large complex organisations. In particular, the discussion highlighted how tricky it can be to facilitate change, especially in the broad terms of implementing BIM.

For Pamela Linton, who began her journey not knowing what ‘BIM’ meant, was the opportunity of asking a number of different people on the ground, and across all the different industry mediums, what it meant to them. She says:

“It was very obvious that we were talking a different language, we were saying it in different ways and the language wasn’t consistent. There were some great conversations happening in pockets, but we weren’t harvesting those conversations.

“The conversations were also taking place largely within the technical community, and that’s great, but if you’re trying to climb over that rainbow to the pot of gold, it needs to be all in one strand or it will break. You need to take a look at your commercial people, at project managers etc, and the leaders have to be engaged, otherwise it won’t go anywhere, it will just fizzle out.”

Once leaders are engaged, an important aspect is to use a language all can understand. Linton said that for them, it had to be done in a very strategic way.

“We spent quite a bit of time understanding the risks and the threat to new entrance – we needed to understand what the benefits were that we as a company were going to get, but also how we could help our clients even further” she explained.

Digital disruption is happening across a number of different industries which is what a number of consultants are talking about. Basically, if you don’t understand digital change, your strategy is not going to go further forward. If you don’t recognise digital disruption, you miss a call of opportunity. It is seen as a very good foundational element – the foundations for a digital strategy.

Linton pointed out that:

“Once you understand digital disruption, you get a very excited leadership group. Once they understand that this is part of the strategy of the company you get a lot of people really excited very quickly.” Kemp agrees, saying that:

“One of the interesting things is the ripple effect and the understanding that this isn’t a technical problem – it impacts all of the organisation – commercial, health and safety etc. People understand that it’s relevant and it’s important, and it will make things easier.” Kemp recognises that one of the problems associated with BIM is that has become a popular word, but one that is understood differently across industry.

She asked Linton what digital represents for her:

“I think there are two different parts and you can’t do it without thinking about analogue first. This is where you have your sensory perceptions – it’s a continuous stream of information flow that comes at you. When it comes to digital, its binary – just ones and zeros, and through that binary information, the data is built up over estimation. The higher your data set, the better and more accurate you are. With BIM, you have better quality of the information coming through.

“One of the things we can see with digital is not just the technology or the data, it’s about the mind-set and how you use it. It’s about how we behave as a company because technology is changing so rapidly. For me, you need to examine that technology every few months. The mind-set needs to change to more of a circular check.”

Kemp added that:

“It’s interesting that many years ago we probably didn’t anticipate the actual rate of change. Change is the norm now but it feels very unsafe.”

She asked Linton what it is that we can do to make people feel braver about embracing change, after all, BIM requires a change in behaviours.

Linton believes that change is a constant. Every experience we have enables change and for a large organisation, it is important to plan for it:

“The level of control for change varies on the environment, the type of change, the organisation itself and the type of people you have in the company. Managing change has to be tailored to the company.

“There will always be resistance, but if the change is managed in a structured way, where all job roles are defined, you can get an end conclusion. Because of what we are seeing with BIM is about a high level of change and disruption, it has to be very closely monitored and catered for. As long as you have the right people leading this, you will be able to take this further forward.

“It is really important to tailor the change to the organisation and the people who are there. The more thought applied upfront, the higher the success rate” she added.

In summary, if you want to engage with BIM you should:

  • Understand what BIM means for your organisation
  • Create the case for change – manage expectations and excitement
  • Understand the type of organisation you have
  • Plan your adoption to suit your organisation – Have a CHANGE plan.

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