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My thoughts


BIM, Clients and Children of the revolution.


BIM, Clients and Children of the revolution.

[Posted in LinkedIn on December 5, 2014]


BIM, Clients, and Children of the Revolution, or should it be Leaders. About to breakout into song. No I don't think that would be a good idea. It would clear rooms instantly, and that would be contrary to the intention of these posts.

There have been many revolutions throughout history. I am not talking about the likes of the French revolution here but the Industrial Revolution, which started in the UK, and similar. BIM is now part of a similar revolution. It did not start in the UK, but as part of the Digital Revolution has the capacity to be a Global game changer in no less a way than the the Industrial Revolution of over 200 years ago has changed the way we live today. The Computer Revolution is another example. Would any construction company today consider going back to using a slide rule for calculations, a typing pool, for letters, and abstract paper for collections and accounting. Are we thinking of filing office space with row after row of drawing boards with all of the associated designers, engineers, and technicians. Perhaps we ought to think about it from a global social point of view as there would definitely be an increase in the number of people required for the same output. However, to remain competitive the amount of money available to pay that group of people would remain the same for the same output, so each person would get significantly less. Computers are here to stay and the drawing board is not going to make a comeback any time soon.

Coalport China Museum
Coalport China Museum

BIM, Clients, Leaders of the Revolution


BIM, Clients, Leaders of the Revolution

[Posted in LinkedIn on December 11, 2014]

Previously on.., I discussed the need for the construction industry’s clients to step forward and become leaders in the BIM revolution. Assuming that is now a taken, and that BIM is indeed a revolution, let us look at the next steps for a new build client that does not have a large mature BIM team and capability. For ease of reading I will call an example company LTS Jones Ltd.

What are the success factors for the implementation of BIM. The board of LTS Jones Ltd have decided it is a good idea, so how do we measure success? Normally, we would look straight to the bottom line. Is the implementation profitable? However, BIM is more complex than that. For a start, going forward, BIM should be free at point of sale. BIM should be so integrated into the normal day job that it is impractical if not impossible to collect and separate the majority of BIM related costs. The BIM generated savings could also be elusive to capture, partly because of the argument, 'We would have spotted that without all of this fancy BIM stuff'. Perhaps that is the case, but perhaps not. Yes, there are specific savings which have been separately identified, but the majority of the complex savings will only become apparent with statistics.

Tree on geometric background

BIM; What is it? What can it become?


BIM; What is it? What can it become?

[Posted in LinkedIn on June 6, 2016]


A simple introduction - Part 1

A friend came up to me at work the other day, and said, "Hi Mr BIM, What is BIM?"

Let's take a straightforward, non technical, non PAS  approach to answering that question, in a simple mind-dump style.

 It is space for a RHS steel column. That column progressively becomes 305x305mm as the design progresses, and then has flanges at each end. The column gains surface treatment, fire retardant, and cosmetic cladding. The flanges then gain bolt holes, M20 bolts, washers, and nuts. All within the original space allocated. Each time the 3D object is pulled from a library full of objects at the appropriate level of detail. LOD. Design progresses though the digital plan of work from bright idea, to concept, to detailed design, and then on to construction, as-builds and finally into asset management.

The column is an asset, as are each of the bolts, and each of the nuts. Even the humble washer is an asset, with its own asset number. It is part of a system. The nut bolt and washers assembly are part of the system that joins two adjacent objects together. The column is another part of the system. The function of the column could be described as being the transfer of loads. The purpose could generally be described as to hold up the ceiling and all the other things above the top of the column. In certain parts of London, where the water table is rising it could be that it is pulling downward, stopping the structure floating. Either way it is transferring load, as part of a system.

As it is pulled into the design from the library it should be given a code. That code should be a matrix code which contains information about the object, the location, the system, the function, and the assets that constitute the object.

Is that all there is to BIM?

Is that all there is to BIM? Well, in a word, no.

When you pull that object from the library it will come with some predefined metadata. The column is RHS, rectangular hollow section, so it will have the dimensions of the section including the wall thickness and corner curvature profile. It could have the bending moment, elasticity, and type of steel. It will have the weight per metre. Knowing the type of steel will provide information about the amount of imbedded carbon in the material. Specifying the ratio of new to recycled steel will provide information about the imbedded carbon in the manufacturing process. We can start to measure carbon content. We will have to wait until later in the process to add another element of metadata, where in the world the steel is manufactured and how it is transported to the construction site.  The metadata can hold all the core data about the object. Links attached to the object can include COSHH data, maintenance information, inspection regime, and demolition/recycling facts. Design, construction, operation, replacement, and decommissioning risks and hazards can also be attached. This is one object in a BIM Model with the three elements, documentation, non-graphical information and graphical information, all in a digital interconnected form. Further  objects are dragged from the object library and connected to the same system until it becomes the model of the structural steel frame of a building, either proposed or existing.

With all of the digital data being integrated and intelligent it is a simple process to change something.

All of the objects together in the 3D model can be visualised and presented to stakeholders in various mediums ranging from simple isometric views for a exhibition or consultation, to a rotating 3D screen view, perhaps with walk through, on to a fully immersive augmented reality using specialist goggles. Early days yet, as only at steel frame stage.

The model has been transferred to the client from the structural designer within the common data environment. The shared digital space which is the single source of truth for all of the collaborating parties across the whole spectrum of the supply chain. The client decides that he wants to increase the floor to ceiling height of the reception area by 50% more. Easy, select the relevant columns and stretch them. All the associated dimensions change and all of the connection and connected elements move with it. The new design is reanalysed. Then, because the BIM objects have 4D and 5D elements attached to them, all at appropriate levels of estimation based on the LOD, the client can instantly be advised of the cost and time implications of his decisions. The client can then make an informed decision to proceed with the change, revert to the previous, or try something different. Information based decision making. The concept of designing to a predetermined budget becomes a reality.

One system is in place, generally created within one discipline. Now we can start with the other systems.

However, let us return to space before we go there. Earlier we mentioned the space for the column. Understanding space is really important. After all, it is space that you are creating when you design a building. Space for desks, homes, or machinery. If it is not a building but a railway tunnel, it is space for a train. Not just a static train but one travelling at speed, with the inherent wobbling from side to side, and bouncing up and down on the suspension. The kinematic envelope. That is just one space in the tunnel. Add the space for the pantograph and overhead line equipment (OHLE). As recently done in the 175 year old Box Tunnel. Line speed of 125mph, but not enough space to add electrification without lowering the invert of the tunnel and thereby the track. Back to the design of the tunnel. Space is required for linear systems such as track, drainage, and cables and discrete items such as signs and signals. All of these space allocations define the internal diameter of the tunnel. Add the wall thickness based on the geology and loadings, and you have the diameter of the TBM. Going back to a building, you define the amount of space you require, the use of that space, and the quality of the building and finishes. The building is merely a facilitator of the space required. Infrastructure is the same, irrespective of whether the space is for cars, trains, water, or gas. Having understood that it is much easier to understand the importance of starting your initial BIM model with spaces, sometimes called volumes.

Now back to the structural frame. The structural frame is outlined to create the space required. That does not mean that it is fixed and unchangeable. All the other systems collaborate to define their space requirements. Notice that disciplines are being generally avoided as this just perpetuates the problematical concept of silos. Silos must be broken down to facilitate collaboration. BIM at this stage requires a space manager. A controller of all the spaces and the arbiter of the disputes, sorry, discussions about one space encroaching on another. The space allocation for the air conditioning duct has to include room to fix it and to maintain and replace it. The design develops and the duct size has to increase. This impacts upon adjacent spaces. The space manager resolves the reallocation in collaboration with all of the relevant stakeholders, including the structural frame if necessary. Again the time and cost consequences can be considered as part of the resolution. Numerous 'what-if' scenarios can be run to optimise the decision. Each object, including the column has to fit in its allocated space which ultimately provides the required free space. Each system is developed within the space for that system. Now comes the fun time. Joining all of the system designs together to form a federated model. All of the previous provides clash avoidance, but still run the clash detection just to check.

Surveying is at the beginning of the process

Is that the extent of BIM? No, that is just the beginning.

We have forgotten surveying. Well, is that is excusable, as it is quite common? No, it is not. Surveying is at the beginning of the process. Unless, you are a retail tin shed provider, where the design is the same irrespective of the site. Or perhaps a housing developer where you have a set number of standard designs, including of course some for so called affordable housing. 

Sorry, time for the interlude. A developer has an interest in making a profit. He has a plot of land which will provide a profit of X giving a return on investment of Y%. Then he is told that 10% of the proposed homes have to be affordable. This translates to below cost. The developer can either subsidise the community or more likely just put up the price of the other homes thereby maintaining his X and Y. This increases the gap between open market and affordability. Increase the requirement to 20%, this only exasperates the effect, making the gap even bigger. It does not take a lot to extrapolate the curve to understand that this is an unsustainable and failed initiative. Social housing is a good thing but should be provided by the whole community for the benefit of the community. Paid for by taxes, not an indirect hidden tax on development which artificially increases the cost of new housing, thereby pulling up the cost of the whole housing stock. Tempted to have a rant about right to buy Housing Association properties. Another ill conceived illogical idea.  End of interlude.

Surveying has moved on from being a couple of guys with a 20" theodolite and staff, or a dumpy level. Information is a lot quicker and cheaper these days. Start with a LIDAR and photogrammetry survey in HD. It takes a little longer and costs a little more but will save resurveying later in the process. Overkill for feasibility but sufficient for design in one hit. I know some people say only get the information that you need at the time. However I consider it to be more efficient to get as much raw data as you can and only process as much as you need. Then when you want a little more to the left you don't have to send out a team again, perhaps to a position of danger, you just pick out the raw data and process it. Surveying has become sexy again. Not in the rugged explorers surveying mountainous terrain way, and creating the first OS maps for our delight and information. Now we have GPS, satellite images, fixed wing and helicopter aerial LIDAR, drones, and cluster autonomous AI drones and bots. Spatially targeted communication, air to ground swarm bots. All for the things we can see, and a multitude of ground penetrating radar and wall penetrating radar for the things we can't see. A couple of years ago BIM would have been considered a swear word at a GIS meeting, now they are getting into bed together. Geoenable BIM is the thing of the moment. It significantly enhances and augments standalone BIM. Geographical Information Systems, GIS, brings a wealth of other data once the BIM model is GEO located. That location can be OS grid, London grid, or Latitude and Longitude. GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data. A standalone BIM model can be given an aspect, but with a location it can both get data for Smart Cities and as an as-built, give back to Smart Cities. Types of information includes tides, flood risk, weather, pollution, air-quality, traffic, solar impact, Climate Change, insurance premiums, retail demographic, objection demographic, area demographic, all as both current and projections. Utilities, Underground railways, mines, and in London, a 3D geology map all add information to the BIM model which aids the decision making progress. Designs become better, with less uncertainty, which equates to less cost, better return on investment. Having the BIM model associated to it’s surroundings helps with planning permissions and providing information to stakeholders in a intelligible manner.

That leads us into informatics, but that is another discussion.

Perhaps that is enough about early digital plan phase BIM. There is of course process, technology, and codification, as well as people.

The required processes

The required processes are well documented but even these can be progressively implemented as your BIM understanding increases.

Technology is another primary element

Technology is another primary element of BIM and is both software and hardware. What you can do in the software and associated software systems such as GIS, Internet of Things, Big Data, and Smart Cities, to name a few is alluded to above. Hardware for the Common Data Environment can be on local servers or in the cloud. It should be owned or controlled by the Client. It is the Client’s data, before, during, and after the intervention (Project). If the Client is not confident in running and maintaining the CDE, he could employ an independent to run it for him. Somebody separate from the Project team. Proprietary Software is a matter of choice, based on best for the job. An informed client will not want to specify the BIM software to be utilised by the supply chain, and will remain software agnostic. Any course other than this negates the open concept of BIM and leads to inefficiencies within the supply chain which will probably cost more than the savings achieved by the Client by just allowing one BIM design platform, and it is not exactly working together with the Project team.

Codification is very complex

Codification is very complex. On the basic level the code can by structured for the single  intervention. This is the simplest solution and is an OK place to start. Even at this level the codes still have to relate to the rates database to provide cost data (5D) and to the WBS of the plan/schedule to translate to the time data (4D). However, this is very isolationist, and ultimately inefficient. The next level may be at enterprise level. This will also present problems if the organisation is large and regional. Nomenclature comes into play. Not only are there different regional names for the same items there are different definitions of similar things. When is a bridge a bridge, or a culvert, or a viaduct? How do you count the spans? Do you define the bridge by what is above or below it, or is this just metadata? All such dilemmas have to be resolved to form a consistent codification. Then there are all of the legacy databases which have to be considered, and ultimately converted into the common codification. So a gargantuan task just to achieve enterprise level commonality. Don’t stop your BIM initiative to wait for the enterprise wide codification, you will loose out on too much learning and potential savings. BIM implementation is not linear. It should be approached as a parallel, concurrent collection of activities. In the process of developing your enterprise solution consider the wider national and international structures available such as Uniclass 2015. These are still in development so are likely to change. Again, don’t be diverted or discouraged by this difficulty. Consider if your codification can just be regenerated by mapping one digital data to another when the other structures are resolved. Then you will have the ability to constantly compare your intervention with similar ones across the world. Enabling both national and international benchmarking.

Importantly on to People

Importantly on to People. People are both the most important part of BIM and the most challenging part at the same time. It is people who chose to use the tools and processes or not. As a company you can tell people what to do, but that is only effective to an extent. I have heard expressed a view that people are not a significant element to BIM. They will do as they are told. I don’t prescribe to that view. It takes a lot of time and effort to change the direction of the company. The strategy and mission statement have to be reviewed. Perhaps even the business model. Then you need to start a process of engaging with the staff to commence a structured culture change process, which includes a communication strategy.  The different tools and processes are only part of the learning. There is also the required change in behaviours. Behaviour is the real key to collaboration. You can put collaboration into a contract and have KPIs but that does not in itself engender the real collaboration that is required. The Client’s team has to be well versed in the ideas and practices of collaboration, and as with many other things, show leadership and direction. The Client’s team need to embrace change and innovation. Embrace collaboration and live the collaboration dream to deliver the expected results. Then the supply chain teams can get on board and really work this collaboration thing. The supply chain does not follow suit by osmosis alone though. Those companies have to make the same level of investment in their people, including the initial navel gazing. The corporate and cultural change throughout the supply change is the most important element of BIM, the most difficult to achieve, and the longest to come to fruition. Normal change management would be to not start banging the drum until you have something to teach. Don't start teaching until you have something to work with. Teach somebody some new software and if they don’t have access, time, and need to use it, within three months they will need retraining. However, whilst the rules still apply to BIM, treat it as part of the engagement phase, another aspect of communication. There is a lot to do in as short a time as possible and this is the part of BIM implementation that will cost money. Don't delay until you have all the answers. Find ways to engage with your people, to get them interested in change and innovation. Help them to understand what BIM is and how it will effect almost every one in the industry in some way or another. Unless you are about to retire BIM will affect you!

Unless you are about to retire BIM will affect you!

More on the later stages, in another article.  

BIM is many things to many people and it is still evolving. No single explanation will suit  all, but one thing is sure, BIM is change. Change to attitudes, change to working practices, contracting, procurement, perhaps even change is required in the EU Procurement Rules. Change to business models and of course to technology. We as an industry should look at how we can reduce the number and height of walls as the data progresses from conception to operation and decommissioning.

BIM is the glue. BIM is transformational.




[Posted in LinkedIn on January 21, 2017]

The question is how to get C Suite attention?

As simple as A B C! Perhaps not.

Before we start, chose A or B in your mind. Don’t go to the end to find the correct answer. Do write your choice down if you are likely to be interrupted. It is a relatively easy choice, a simple either or.

Back to the question, how do you get C Suite attention about BIM? There I have said the three letter acronym. I could make it four letters with CIMM, Collaborative Information Management and Modelling or two letters with DR, Digital revolution.

According to the NBS National BIM Report 2016 there is 54% BIM adoption in the UK, up from 48% the previous year. Allowing for a degree of over optimistic assessments from the contributors to the survey, and a degree of natural cynicism, we will for this discussion downgrade that to 50%. (The arithmetic is easier as well). If we are generous and make an assumption that as many as 50% of those are engaged in holistic BIM, and are therefore maximising the potential benefits. That quick, un-scientific and un-substantiated calculation suggests that 75% are not getting the most out of BIM. Given apparently a construction industry population of over 2 million people there is still a lot of awareness and engagement required to get full coverage.

Congratulations to the visionaries and innovators that have seen the light, and have the support required to get into the nominal 25% of high flyer adopters. Thanks also to the volunteers and others who put their time and expertise into the like of the BIM4 community, the BIM Task Group and all the other people and organisations who have helped, cajoled, and persuaded those early adopters who were prepared to put their toes into the water. There are several excellent examples of all disciplines within the construction industry. Too many to name here. However, I will pick out Waitrose as an excellent exemplar. The John Lewis ethos, especially the long term relationships they develop fits well with the collaboration element of BIM. They understand the value proposition of BIM and are able to explain the benefits to the decision makers in terms they understand. Their BIM models looks exactly like the finished product, so the end user gets exactly what they expected and what they require. The information is passed from construction into operation and maintenance and is used to improve efficiency in both. This translates to more profits for the shareholders, which happen to be the staff, it is the John Lewis Partnership after all is said, and less cost for the customers. Greater competitiveness and staff wellbeing.

The big challenge is how are we to get the other 1.5 million people up to speed with the industry transformation? Surely it is too large a group to be ignored or cast aside. It has taken a number of years to get to where we are. There are only 3years left to meet the ambition of BIM Level 2 as business as usual by 2020.

Ideally the change required to meet the challenge will come from the top. No, not the government but from the C-Suite of the companies and organisations in the industry. Still with the help of the BIM4 community and the UKBIM Alliance taking over from the BIM Task Group, together with the continued support of all the others that understand, and are happy to share their BIM ideas and experience.

Given that the C-Suite are already busy with lots to attend to, how do you get their attention?

You tell them about the savings and increased profitability, and you get the cynicism appropriate to the good thing that has dropped of the back of a lorry. The business case is not yet demonstrated. The investment does not provide the required return. Nothing can be that good. It is just a fad, and will not catch on. ‘The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty … ‘

Perhaps they do take enough notice to ask for information from their advisors. That is a big step forward, and should be recognised as such. However, the advisors don’t always have the knowledge, understanding, or expertise to be able to give the appropriate advice.

Will the C-Suite even open a pamphlet if one were produced specifically for them? If it were only two pages long it might fulfil the Executive Summary concept, but will have far too little information to enable constructive strategic decisions. In fact, when I write strategies I do not include an Executive Summary as such big decisions should not be made based just a small fraction of the information contained in the whole strategy.

Let us consider what else might influence the C-Suite, of CEO, CFO, CTO, COO, CIO, CCO, CLO etc. Perhaps the shareholders may have an impact. Perhaps the Fund Managers should take an interest. Given that the BIM adopters are already making some of the savings reported to be available and that they are most likely to outperform the construction industry both in terms of growth and dividends, it would make sense for Fund Managers and Investment Advisers know about BIM, the reported benefits. Then of course they would be better placed to assess if companies were managing that element of their business well, and were therefore worth investing in. Conversely, those companies that were ignoring BIM may become downgraded as an investment opportunity.

The Banking community may also be interested and start influencing the Construction Industry C-Suite. Again, with the greater success of the companies adopting holistic BIM there is of course the converse which could be construed as additional risk. Banks tend to take an adverse view about risk, especially if they stand to lose out if a company defaults.

BIM in the Health and Safety arena might save lives and avoid accidents. Failure to adopt known techniques of avoidance may be construed in such a way as to result in prosecutions which could possibly include some of the C-Suite as well as the organisation. Risk to liberty may provide sufficient influence.

The newspapers may provide some influence to the C-Suite, but I have been informed that the printed newspaper is in its death throws, or maybe put more sympathetically as being in decline. However, digital newspapers are on the rise. I wonder about the demographic of the digital newspaper in terms of influencing the C-Suite. Wider media may also be considered.

Why would wider media be interested in BIM? Let us consider BIM on a wider stage. BIM applied on infrastructure will reduce the costs of the intervention or project. It was once said that costs are 1:10:100 in respect of design, construction, and operation and maintenance. I suspect we should include demolition and decommissioning in the split, and acknowledge that the current figures are somewhat different. The idea however is still the same, the greatest saving is in the operation and maintenance phase. Hence the best of the savings are still to come. Infrastructure investment is generally public sector. The more we as an industry invest in BIM the greater the savings in construction costs, followed by a substantial reduction in ongoing costs. This could result in a reduction in taxes, but a more probable outcome would be just a reduction of the increase required.

Similarly building costs would be reduced. The less a building costs to design, construct, operate and maintain, the less those costs have to feed into the cost of living, either in the cost of the products we buy or the homes we live in.

If the cost of living and the cost of the public purse either reduce or do not increase as much as they may have otherwise done, it could make GB plc more competitive. A hypothetical example. A widget form the Far East costs £1.00, and £1.03 including transport costs. A similar widget costs £1.50 with a Union Flag and made in Britain on the packaging. It takes a high degree of philanthropy, social conscience, or economic awareness to ignore such a significance base price difference. However, there are cost pressures in the Far East including increased wages which will increase their costs faster that GB costs with the benefit of BIM downward pressures will make that difference much less, and taking the quality control differential, i.e. the percentage of non-merchantable product included in the shipment, the variance could become so slight that it is feasible to return to ‘Made in Britain’. Could this be the socioeconomic story that will get the media to become interested and to influence the C-Suite?

Back to the question at the top of the article. Did you chose A or B. There was no relevant information for you to make an informed decision. It was a totally random question without any meaning or true result. Accordingly it has no impact here either. That is not the case with the decisions the C-Suite have to make. BIM, implemented properly, and used properly, provides for informed decisions. Generally speaking informed decisions result in better outcomes than 50/50 bets. Information is a key element of BIM, and obviously an essential component of informed decisions. So the question should be restated as E or F. Expanding or Failing. That is the choice facing the C Suite now.

How do we get their attention?

Please answer in the comments.


Change - paint the wall


Change - paint the wall

[Posted in LinkedIn on September 11, 2016]

You have become bored with the bland off white walls in your dining room. They were good a while ago, but it is time for a more dynamic approach. A bold colour is required. The decision is made. Well half made. In the dim and distant past it was said that the average UK family consists of 2.4 children. There was even a TV programme about it. So let's assume that average family of 2 adults and 2.4 children. That's 4.4 stakeholders which need to be considered and consulted about that mythical decision that you thought you had made. Admittedly some have less voting rights than others. You may get a goo gaa out of one and an uh out of another. Interesting observation there, that the baby uses two syllables whilst the grumpy monosyllabic teenager only manages one. Anyway, the family has now been consulted and engaged and change is agreed. The next few weeks are spent on discussing colour and planning. Are there any other interested parties. People who can offer worthwhile input, or perhaps friends whose opinions you value. Thursday before the painting weekend Jane, a friend was on the phone. A sudden thought, "Jane's boyfriend is an interior designer' isn't he?" "That's what the call was about, they've broken up." "No, you can't still phone him!" Chalked up as a missed stakeholder involvement. On to the painting. It is done, stand back and admire the work. Do you both like it? And the children? Other stakeholders?

Change has been achieved without too much drama. The 2 + 2.4 are content. A good outcome. Even if it was not liked, it is easy to pick another colour and change again without too much trouble. Do you still like it after three months?

Next change, the bathroom

With one success under my belt it is time to attempt another change. The bathroom refit this time. A bit more ambitious than painting a room. Is it to be DIY, a bit of specialist contractor management or just get a bathroom contractor in to do it all. You all know how this goes by now. Consultation, stakeholders, skills, involvement, management, risk assessment, outcomes, probability of success. The bathroom is a bigger project with bigger impact on the people involved.


Having considered these two very simple, relatively uncomplicated change projects, with few impacted people involved, let us consider a change programme on a different scale. BIM implementation within one company.

BIM implementation

Here, let us forget everything and anything we though about change. About the two experiences above.

BIM is only about technology. BIM is only about process. BIM is only about codification or lexicon. BIM is only about information. BIM is only about 3D, and is only for CAD. There is no need to think about change, that is not relevant. It is one of the above ONLYs. All you need is a Project Manager to keep the costs and techies in check. People will adapt and do as they are told.

Sorry to upset, and perhaps you don't want to read further, but if that fits you or your company, you are in for a big surprise. Let's hope it is not an extinction event. Sometime there will be a need to understand it is more than all of the ONLYs above put together. It is about people as well. It is about a fundamental change to the company which must managed very carefully. It is the biggest cultural change programme you are likely to undertake in the decade. You may have to review your business model at the same time. Don't worry about it though, it does not all have to start or be delivered all at the same time. The main thing is to understand the challenge and the implications. That is the fundamental differentiation between success and failure. Good outcomes, and less good. Change is around us all of the time, and always has been. Embrace it, manage it, and prosper.

There are companies that are already prospering from their efforts, which is good for the industry. We have to think not just about company cultural change, but about sector, and industry total change, in its perspective, interactions, and relationships. It has to share information and ideas. It has to communicate better. It has to collaborate. The industry needs its own cultural change management programme that understands the challenges and the people issues. The negativity, the fear, the scepticism, the reluctance to change, and the uncertainty need to be heard, listened to, and resolved. Then we can help the industry move forward and change. Not because of any government mandate, or shareholder pressure asking why you are not adopting the change, or enterprise risk manager downgrading your annual report or company status, but because it makes sense. It makes sense to adopt BIM properly together with the rest of the digital revolution, in an integrated and coherent manner, whilst at the same time disjointed and fixing those things that can be fixed and deferring those that are in the too difficult box. Accepting that some legacy stuff is more difficult to change and update. Come back to those later. It the same way as come back to the Luddites latter. Big Bang change does not always work, but managed change is better than head in the sand. Think of the digital revolution, think of holistic BIM, think of any size, CAPEX, OPEX, TOTEX, asset management, operation, FM, demolition, design, survey, it all joins together as part of the change the industry has embarked on. Change is all around you. Join the ship and enjoy it. No, not a ship, more a flotilla of clients, surveyors, consultants, design houses, architects, engineers, main contractors, specialist contractors, sub-contractors, sub-subcontractors, of many layers, individual traders, BIM evangelists, BIM consultants, BIM software providers, and of course the workforce. The list appears endless, for big and small. There has to be a benefit path identified for all, and then plans developed for benefit realization for all.

According to the UK ONS CONSTRUCTION OUTPUT: VOLUME SEASONALLY ADJUSTED, the 2015 total for all work was £134,345m. That is a big number. For every 5% saving in efficiency the number is £6,717m. Lots of boats in the flotilla but the number is big enough to go around and give everyone a benefit, including the 2m plus workforce. This change is not just about money though, it also includes professional standing, community interfaces, relationships between companies and individuals, work life balance, health at work, and social fabric. It is big change, but well worth it.

Carrot ending, not stick.


Reply to Comments

When I have spoken to Andrew he has always been passionate about it all joining up. Holistic BIM makes more sense than hollywood BIM and then add requirements management and systems engineering and you start to get whole solutions. When adopted by the chain, this can engender big change, and big savings / profits. Then you can start adding externals such as the internet of things and big data.

Change Part 2 – the vehicles of BIM implementation


Change Part 2 – the vehicles of BIM implementation

[Posted in LinkedIn on September 13, 2016]

Let us assume from the first instance that leaders, CEOs, CIOs, MDs and the like have all acknowledged the need for change. Accepted that it is sink or swim, flounder or flourish, and that their ship is in peril. I know that that is an erroneous assumption, but it is necessary to allow us to move on without another round of why. The why is by now a given, it is time to start bailing out, and then start the steering.

Change is upon us in various guises. It could be called BIM, information revolution, digital revolution, or Digital Built Britain, or many other names or acronyms between. We have the why change, but what is change?

What is change?


There are many books and courses which will tell you about change. Part of the problem here though is that society itself has changed, and not always for the better. The willingness to read, and I make no apologies for the length of this article, has diminished. The attention span has decreased. The modes of gathering and exchanging information have changed significantly. The internet rules. Even there it is difficult. Talking to a VLOGer recently, you have to grab your audience within 30secs and expect to hold them for no longer than 3mins, and that is with a subject that they chose to search out and watch. Instagram, twitter, instant, small snippets of information, with no depth.

I have exceeded my 3mins, so get on and change the world.

However, for those that want to continue, back to what is change, in this context. Perhaps we can consider it as a desire to promote a profession, a group of people, a process, or a product. Perhaps it is a desire to change an outcome, whether that is to increase profitability, improving employee satisfaction and retention, and recruitment, promote employee wellbeing, including Health and Safety, develop efficiency and sustainability. Perhaps it is to be philanthropic and do something for society. In any of these, change is fundamentally there to influence something or someone. Generally, the something is controlled by a someone. Therefore, is it fair to distil it down to change is the act of influencing someone to achieve a desired outcome?

How to change?


Is how to change the most difficult part? How to influence people when people are so diverse in so many different communities, with so many different objectives. Impossible to get right! No, it all follows the same principles. Think about painting the wall in the earlier post. Or getting in the specialist to do the bathroom. There are the stakeholders. Those that you wish to influence and those that will have an influence on the outcome of your efforts. If you are a client you may think that all you have to do is get the executive board on board, and then give the edict for everyone to follow. If you are a fifth tier subcontractor, you may think it is just a case of changing everything you think and do for the latest demand of the tier above. Perhaps you have a readership, or membership just waiting for the next bout of wisdom. All of these are doomed, and not in a St Paul’s Cathedral way. You have to identify your stakeholders, categorise them, loosely. Then you have to plan how you are going to influence them. Hold on, have I missed something. Yes. Before you can start to influence them you need to have a very clear understanding of what outcome you want to change. What are the objectives of your change programme? The mission statement as it were. Is there a clear link between the outcome you want to achieve and the influence you are going to apply? If so, you can start to develop a strategy.

Before you can influence any of the stakeholders that you have identified you need to be able to communicate with them effectively. There are many forms of communication, all with various levels of success. The most important part of the communication is to get people to listen. What do you think is the proportion of people watching a particular advertisement on the TV that take any notice of it? How many could tell you what it was about in an hour’s time? If that is the case why are so many millions spent on TV ads? Internet, street, newspaper, and magazine ads? Our communication must be so much more successful than advertising. The communication must be targeted according to stakeholder, where they are on the grief curve, their attitudes and benefits, their interrelationships, and where they are on the change management plan. Already, we have a complex matrix, and one size does not fit all. However the path broadly follows;

·        Awareness

·        Inform and explain

·        Engage

·        Educate and train

Then comes implement, mentor and support.

How this communication plan manifests itself depends on the audience, however, due cognizance must always be given to the makeup of the stakeholder body. The communication streams or activity streams for one group may be;

·        Communications and events

·        Technical papers and publications

·        Interaction with professional bodies

·        Working with educational establishments

For another group it may be;

·        Internal workforce and consultants

·        Other departments

·        Clients

·        Supply Chain

·        Product providers

·        Industry associations

Each stream has to be developed dependent upon the stakeholder analysis and the desired influence to be applied to create the desired change in outcome.

Once this is aligned it is possible to complete the change strategy paper and to commence populating the streams with activities against the timeline. To create a matrix communications plan.

We need to get used to change and become adept at it as it is going to be with us, in the construction industry in particular, for at least the next decade. We need to become agile, innovative, efficient, and collaborative to cope with this rate of change. We also need to accept that it must be done progressively to succeed. Expect to revisit some things and change them again. We are not ready and not capable to make that one big step, we have to feel our way with small steps, but always in the right direction.

That is the why, what, how. The who, when, and where are down to you!


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