PADT 1.006 – Developing the Hive Mind
What to do if Complexity is a Given...
If Nothing Changes
I’ve been a big advocate of trying to pair down BIM to its basics so that it can be easier to understand, learn and manage. But to face facts, the Big Names are winning and complexity seems to be here to stay. Unfortunately, a lot of clients and contracts now require the Big Names. The smaller BIM solutions don’t seem to have the features needed to create files with the information that most AEC Engineers need to do their work. So what can you do?
The Hive Mind
The Hive Mind is an old concept based on a “brain trust” of key individuals tasked with understanding a system. With a system as complex as BIM, it can be very difficult for one individual to understand all the aspects of BIM organization and even application features. Especially in a multi-disciplinary AEC firm, as I was in, it’s also almost impossible to get a handle on the application features of just one of the disciplines, much less them all. The key is to realize this and not burden key staff with trying to be all a source for “all BIM knowledge.” It will drive them into the ground.
You need to establish and make well known the fact that BIM knowledge much be spread around to the members of the team. This will most likely require key players in each disciple to be designated to BIM Knowledge Resources. They often are not and should not be the head of the department. Often people that are very gifted technically are not that adept at organizing staff and don’t need to be.
Freedom to Learn
Part of becoming of Knowledge Resource is being allowed the time to explore, study, and experiment. Many of us in the beginning cut our BIM Teeth on Paul Aubin’s Lynda.com tutorials. But we had to stay after hours and even spend time at home in our off hours trying to get the software to do what we need it to. Managers need to realize that in order for an organization to establish a Hive Mind, “worker bees” can’t just draw. They need time, paid time, to figure out the best way to do things - to read manuals, watch videos, practice, ask other users, inquire of outside consultants, etc. to really get a handle on things.
The Queen Bee and Her Court
There often is found information, technique, and insights that need to be presented to the department staff and often to the entire staff. The needs to be a way for this information to “up the hive” and a method for disseminating it. There also needs a system for storage and retrieval of this information. This can be a company-wide WIKI, even just a library of saved articles and videos. You need to make sure the staff knows that if they discover something how important it is to not just sit on that information, but get it spread around. They may not be the ones to update the Knowledge repository, but know who they need to inform about this. From there, internal articles and videos could be created. The staff needs the tools to create these and the tools needed to store and retrieve them.
This is important and so often missed. This is so often missed and not seen as vital to an organization’s success. Every BIM Meeting, every discussion of project Execution Plans, every BIM pre- and post-mortem needs to have these concepts first and foremost. What worked? What didn’t? Is it something we don’t yet know or understand? Can someone find this out and the Queen Bee can then let everyone else know.
But What If It’s Just Me?
There’s a great book by Michael Gerber called “The E-Myth Revisited.” He advocated work ON your company and not just IN your company. To develop systems and documents of how your company should run ala a Franchise Model of business. This is especially true for solo or very small businesses. These documents become the employees you can’t afford to hire. You have to have a “Getting Things Done” Trusted System of documents. They need to be stored and constantly updated. There’s way too much to remember and throwing BIM into AEC just multiplies the complexity. Most architectural firms require the key player to have an expert grasp on probably 25 different applications.
Create documents that guide you through the process. While you’re “fighting the good fight” take notes about what works and what doesn’t and techniques you discover to improve things. Take time with the “this doesn’t work” notes and dig out the answers, write them down, update your documents and inform the team if you have one.
Pen and Paper take on a whole new meaning!
Have note pads and note cards always available. Carry them in your pockets at all them. You can’t the “knowledge like water” slip away. What’s was that he said, as you walk back across the office to your desk.
Some Final Notes
The internet and especially YouTube are great resources. In fact, I believe they’ve ended a lot of consulting careers (it did mine). So use them, but they can’t handle every particular and specialized problem. I always recommend firms to have key people at the call to answer or investigate solutions that you can’t dig out for yourself. And above all, PAY THEM! I don’t know how many times I hit up one of my CAD Jock Buddies who knew the answer to what I was struggling with. Invaluable!
Let me know what you think… SeeYa!
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Dave Edwards has been in the CAD/BIM industry as a manager, developer, consultant, speaker, and author for almost 40 years. He has had 80 magazine articles published, written 3 international newsletters, reviewed over 300 CAD/BIM applications, and 3D modeled 2 Billion dollars worth of architectural projects. He is available for professional alpha/beta testing, application feature consulting, technical documentation support, seminar presentations, and voice overs.
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