The authors highlight a little-understood cognitive phenomenon that may play a key role in the maladaptive failures of the modern human environment. There are implications for our future ability to integrate built environments into sustainable ecosystems. By discussing vision we mean how architects interpret what they see in front of them, not the brave new world they envision populated with their own designs. Perhaps this is another barrier to the implementation of integrated processes in the built environment.
February 9, 2011, by NPR Staff — As enrollment rates in colleges have continued to increase, a new book questions whether the historic number of young people attending college will actually learn all that much once they get to campus. In Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, two authors present a study that followed 2,300 students at 24 universities over the course of four years. The study measured both the amount that students improved in terms of critical thinking and writing skills,…
Barriers to Successful BIM
Approaching the change as technology not people
- Significant numbers of people and companies approach BIM as a technology, not a new business process.
- You can no longer allow vendors to push you into an applications focus-in order for them to sell more software. Integrated practice and building information modeling are not about buying the right software. They are about adopting processes and finding the best tools to deliver the highest value.
- Too many still confuse BIM as being Revit or some other software solution. Too many buy a software tool believing that they will be able to do BIM. As a corollary, too many think that this is a change to 3D.
- Keep in mind that you need to monitor all aspects of your business with this mindset. For example, in an integrated practice, you cannot allow software tools to replace professional judgment-on any level.
- If you allow captured knowledge and rules-based planning systems to “take control,” you have ceded responsibility and are leaving yourself open to problems. Things will begin to ‘drop through the cracks’ and you will miss critical issues.
- This is one of the reasons that it is important for experienced designers to become more involved in the process-from day one. In an integrated process, knowledgeable designers must not only create the sketch on the back of the napkin, they must develop the concept in the software-do not hand off these critical early decisions to inexperienced staff and hope for the best.
- Many people focus on the imagery that is the surface layer of BIM. In reality, the underlying information that is embedded is, by far, the most valuable part of the model. Savvy owners realize that their data is more valuable than the facilities themselves.
- Your models allow greater consistency and compliance with standards. They make it easier to find and resolve conflicts. By solving problems on the spot, you help to keep the job moving and reduce the risk of lawsuits or claims from design errors and omissions.
- By finding problems quickly, you reduce the unintended consequences that can occur.
- Capture everything in dependable archives. Use real-world rules about how things relate to each other to improve efficiency. Use knowledge to eliminate the mundane and speed critical decisions. Pay attention to the details.
- Use everything at your disposal to make things clear. Reuse data to get the right information, at the right time, to those who must decide.
- Focus on creating the most efficient and effective ways to use the information in your models. As you become more agile and more efficient, you become an asset and resource in the built environment value network.
Lacking a holistic view and strategic vision
- The BIM process is by its very nature sustainable. When you work in a BIM process, you are by definition eliminating waste and reducing the inefficiencies that plague the building industry. As an inherently sustainable process, you are making a major impact.
- Yet some organizations continue to hold to yesterday’s business practices and approach. In today’s highly connected world, we can no longer afford the costs, errors and issues that result from trying to shoehorn 19th and 20th century business practices into today’s world. Businesses need to embrace the change and aggressively move toward integrated processes that deliver sustainable outcomes. The factory with semi-skilled laborers is no longer a viable paradigm.
- We need to take a long view. Use a systems approach to design and understand that this is a process and you can define and manage any process.
- Do not completely rely on any one way of completing a project. Rather, bring the most appropriate tools and procedures to bear on each project. Understand the underlying concepts and ensure that you use the optimum processes to solve problems.
- There is a lack of a strategic vision about BIM and IPD in many organizations. Most people first opt to tactical solutions. Without a strategic vision, this may win the battle but lose the war.
- Use innovation as a management tool to develop new insights, explore new roles, and understand new viewpoints.
Focus on projects, legacy systems and yesterday’s processes
- Almost everyone thinks of BIM in the context of ‘projects’ only. This focus is indicative of the design and construction professions’ bias toward what they traditionally do, rather than the bigger world in which theyshould have influence.
- The industry focuses on “Projects” as the increment of exchange. BIM processes are life-cycle driven and “projects” fosters short-term thinking and undermines the value of client assets.
- When we look at BIM in the context of “projects” we are fostering the same types of information silos that have gotten us where we are now. BIM needs to be understood in the much larger context of the entire built environment. Projects do still occur in the BIM world, but they can not represent closure in any situation.
- ”…the way I see it, BIM can well be contextualized through models, projects, assets, organizations, other systems, their sub-divisions and inter-relations.” — Bilal Succar
- During the work that we did with the SHiP Group in roadmapping the US Coast Guards approach, we opted for the term “assets”, believing that it was more inclusive of the breadth of interaction. Nearly everything can be seen as an “asset”; only a limited subset can be accurately described as a “project”.
- “Projects” is not usually an issue when we focus on design and construction processes, however when we leave that relatively small segment of the BIM equation, “projects” actually becomes a misnomer. It is an almost-correct use of terminology that seems to increase many people’s confusion about what BIM is really about.
- Today, a project focus for bim may well be the only way for many to embrace the process. In fact, with a few exceptions that is what is discussed any time people come together to discuss bim.
- Many legacy systems and processes are no longer responsive to modern needs. They require extraordinary adjustment of how we now need to do business. Why should we have to sub-optimize our processes to use legacy systems?
Established organization’s reliance on legacy systems undermines their ability to achieve integrated decision-making capability.
- To the extent that an organization cannot evaluate new business processes and tools without legacy system bias there is significant sub-optimizing of systems. Organizations refusing to abandon proprietary legacy systems will delay BIM penetration.
- If you continue to cling to the traditional approach, be aware that there are major problems with business as usual. Many have said, Enough is enough.
- In the construction industry, the term BIM is used often. The term is confusing. BIM has no context for most people. Some see BIM as the modeling tools sold by vendors. Limiting yourself to a descriptive term for products sold by software companies diminishes the power and benefits you receive from BIM. This confusion causes some to write off the change. Other organizations actively discourage collaboration and provide incorrect information geared toward individual benefit. Other legacy vendors find themselves in the position where they can no longer convince their customers that they have the best solution and actively avoid making their products interoperable in order to maintain their position.
- Much of the confusion is created by software vendors sales tactics to retain market share.
- The complexity of the subject allows companies to redefine the process to fit their individual corporate capabilities, rather than mandating the delivery of shared and collaborative work practices that eliminate ‘stovepipes’ and waste in the construction industry Money, inertia and confusion keep people from acting. Even when the change is in their best interest. You need to explore new and evolving technology.
- You need to design, test, and apply tools to manage information.
Focusing on ‘What’s in it for Me?’
- The ‘what’s in it for me?’ focus of the last decade has delayed and sub-optimized the adoption of bim and the advantages that integrated processes give to society. Each of us needs to understand the ‘big picture’ so that we become better stewards of our environment.
- Many focus on “what’s in it for me” and make most of their BIM related decisions in this context. It is shortsighted to look at BIM and decision making with this as the lead factor and undermines development.
- Things change over time, sometimes creating a need to change how we approach things. BIG BIM little bim started out with ‘What’s in it for me?” For many, this focus created a selfish response that could easily sidetrack development. Some took the concept to extremes that included tightly holding all of their options, to the detriment of the overall good. Truly we should be focusing on creating win-win situations, so that all benefit.
- In a collaborative environment, we must share information. Intellectual property is important, but it is not the priority. Be willing to share information to get the project done. Know and understand that free-flowing information is a basic requirement of an interoperable process. Without shared information, BIM and integrated practice are severely limited.
- BIM is about Information, but perhaps more importantly, BIM is about people. Without understanding, buy-in and an agreement to change things for the better, BIM will always be sub-optimized, because BIM is a unifying and integrating process, enhanced by technology.
- As we explored how to make the change to integrated practice, we found that a successful process has to revolve around systems that value all team members.
- Work with your clients, consultants, and your staff to ensure that they understand the goals and philosophy that drive the process. Steadily expand the circle of those who understand and believe in the change. When they understand how you deliver value, their performance is enhanced. Consult and involve your supply chain in decision-making.
- Record information to confirm decisions or to create future value, not to track blame.
You should keep in mind, What’s in it for me?, but always focus on the context of What’s best for us?
- If you are starting out…You are a junior staff member. You are a student. You are about to start your first firm. You need context and an overview to help you to tell others about integration. You need to plan your personal exploration.You need to be able to explain how to structure your new business to be a leader in building sustainable value within the complex network that makes up the built environment.
- If you are an owner… Today’s new ways of working are a revelation, which, for you, may seem obvious. You likely wonder why all construction professionals have not been doing this all along. However, you need the context to require an integrated process from those you employ. You need ideas for changes to your organization that let you benefit from the process.
- If you are a small-established business… You should use the resources to identify changes that move you toward an integrated practice. One-step at a time. It will help you become more effective and more profitable.
- If you are a medium established business… You need a framework for developing your business case for change. You need facts to help you to move beyond a focus on buying new applications and a plan for keeping the parts of your business that work and replacing those that do not provide sustainable value.
- If you are a large established business… You are already working to integrate you business operations and need to support your business case for integrated practice. You will recognize the need to follow a roadmap for your organizational change management process.
- If you are a supplier or manufacturer… You need to understand how you fit into the process. You have been hearing rumblings about virtual design and construction through your professional organizations and you may have heard about some of the construction success stories. Learn what others are up to, and start thinking about how the process can make you more money and keep your customers happier.
Focusing on the wrong social structure
- The world is moving away from a hierarchical-command and control model to a distributed-share and collaborate model. A model that values processes and systems that improve information flow and creates a more sustainable environment.
- This change is happening everywhere, not only in the construction industry. To work effectively in this new model, move away from focusing on the WE-THEY and start looking out for US.
- The focus of most of the attention on BIM and integrated practice is on the largest firms. Because of this, many smaller firms question the value of the integrated process. The process seems far removed from today’s small practices. It is an attractive idea, but for many small firms it is hard to see profitable applications today.
- The process is driven by individuals and in today’s connected world, the individual has the ability to leverage technology to do major things. Yet, the BIM and integrated process discussion primarily focus on on the organization rather than the individual.
- Until recently, the focus has also been on the organization rather than the world. Sustainability, energy and other world scale issues are now beginning to be seen as benefiting from BIM and integrated processes.
There is also a lack of data, vision and systems to support growth at the worldwide scale.
- Embrace free and open communications. Know that people work better and make better decisions when they are informed about what is happening. Embrace processes that bring all points of view and all skill sets to the table early, in significant ways.
- Optimize working practices, methods, and behaviors to get maximum value. Create a culture where the team is able to work together efficiently and effectively.
Not using open-standards and lack of interoperability are still problems.
- The goal is to build structures that capture everything. Then share the information so that you eliminate repetition. Do your work once and use the information for many purposes using whatever software tools that you wish.
Confusing process with end-product
- There is too little system thinking. Many focus on Integrated Project Delivery as the end-goal. IPD may be an end-goal for some organizations that provide services to others. IPD is a delivery process and does not respond to the need for integrated decision-making and other integrated system wide processes. Enterprise Integration is more likely the end-goal for BIM.
- Firms using bim for design only, construction only and design/build often find themselves in much the same position as ‘early adopters’… even though each of these approaches have tried and time proven solutions.
- There is little written and published guidance to help them contact for and maximize collaboration in these formats. They find themselves, reinventing the wheel on every project.
- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) offers the promise of better design, improved sustainability and increased certainty of outcomes at every level of the environment. Realizing the promise takes many forms and happens at many different paces. One size does not fit all.
- Globally, large interdisciplinary teams are embracing IPD as an opportunity to better address the need for a more holistic and sustainable approach to projects. Much of today’s buzz and support revolves around these projects.
- Much is written and published about how to IPD. AIA’s IPD documents and other collaborative agreements provide a framework for contacting such projects.
- Autodesk’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) Specification and a number of other references provide guidance about team relationships and organization.
- Locally, smaller firms and smaller clients also see the promise of IPD. Yet, procurement regulations, lack of experience and inertia often restrict their ability to deliver on the promise. This has resulted in projects that apply emerging technologies in ways that may lead to IPD, but today must focus on real returns in less comprehensive ways. These firms need clear, organized ways to contract for and organize projects when the only option is a slower paced implementation.
- Contract and manage every flavor of BIM and remember that BIM is a cradle to cradle process.
Requiring Systems that are Too Complex, Too Finished and Too Difficult to Implement
- You may have heard the joke: UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity. The same could be said of BIM and integrated practices. Do not get trapped into the complexity. Embrace simplicity.
- Today many believe that it is necessary to buy and deploy highly complex and complicated BIM authoring tools. Without such tools, they believe that you cannot do BIM.
- BIM needs to be as simple as it needs to be to achieve your goals. Too simple and the data may be useless. Too complex and you may not be able to use, or even access your data.
- Functional BIM that has real value can be simple and straightforward. By using a phased in approach to BIM that produces the right information at the appropriate time, BIM is cost effective, supports decision making and is accessible.
- Work from large to small, always. Success and satisfaction is in the detail, but they are not the only things you will find in the details. You also find disagreement and delay.
- Too much detail, too early and you lower your chances of success. Without context and understanding, the details can be overwhelming. The details reveal themselves as you move forward, so do not let them slow you down when the big picture needs attention. Act when you see the pitfalls, not before.