human side

Miami Meeting Explores The Human Side of BIM

By Jeff Yoders on June 11, 2013

“Without humans there is no BIM, despite the fact that you can’t get through a conversation about BIM without referencing the ever-popular 10% technology and 90% sociology (that BIM is), we spend most of our time and resources invested on the technology side. Therefore, we’re taking a different approach with this BIM Forum. We’re going to focus on helping users rather than using technology.”  – Laura Handler, Director of VDC at Tocci Building Cos.

The BIMForum’s recent meeting at the Hilton Biscayne Bay in Miami was a departure from the organization’s previous conferences in that it not only investigated the Human Side of BIM, but also in that all of the presentations were held to a strict six slides over six minutes-and-forty-seconds format to allow the whole breadth of “Human BIM” to be investigated and discussed in just two days. The meeting drew 322 BIM AEC professionals to sunny South Florida.

“Technology is a platform for making changes in our firms and our business and the industry,” said Philip Bernstein, FAIA, vice president of strategic industry relations at Autodesk and a co-organizer of the Miami meeting with Handler. “This is about change, change in the people systems of the implementation of BIM. Whether it’s senior management, the leadership of individual projects, the planning and training necessities of a project, each of those things will be focused on in some detail in this BIM Forum. Let’s see how the wetware, the people, behind the software works.”

The presentations covered subjects such as “Green & Light Green: Is BIM the Catalyst for Experience,” “Building Intelligence: Cultural and Organizational Characteristics of Innovative AEC Firms” and “Principals are From Earth and BIM Managers are from Mars.

While the presentations differed in content and style, all dealt with change management challenges that all AEC firms deal with. Some of the situations in the presentations included the significance of experience in both design and construction, the fact that human beings’ brains are prewired to fight change, and how to better communicate across generations.

“Culture is the byproduct of consistent behavior and consistent behaviors drive technology adoption,” said CASE co-founder Steve Sanderson who presented “Building Intelligence.”

Hard data on just who is performing BIM tasks came from Steve Jones, director of research at McGraw-Hill, who shared some of the data from his company’s latest BIM SmartMarket Report, research that was done on the behalf of the BIMForum as a research partner. Jones said that the age of BIM Champions at AEC firms surveyed in their ‘30s, more than 50% of them. While 95% of architects are now creating 3D models, more than 75% of structural, mechanical and electrical subcontractors are also creating models and there was improved adoption from subcontractors as well. CMs and GCs actually were not doing as much 3D modeling as mechanical, electrical and structural subcontractors as model authoring has started to further branch out in construction disciplines.

“The real heart of what we looked at was to try to correlate improved performance on BIM projects against this idea of team vs. individual responsibility/accountability performance measurement,” Jones said. “These numbers come from a question that said ‘on your most recent BIM project compared to all your other BIM projects, to what degree have you seen improvement on schedule performance, budget performance and overall performance? Clearly, everyone is saying it is getting better, the question is why? What are the elements that are making it better?”

The difference between teams and workgroups and the accountability, team goals vs. individual goals, was a main thrust of the questions in the survey. The greatest impact on performance was when designers and contractors both engaged in 3D modeling. 272 AEC professionals answered the survey in February and March of this year.

While the research and case studies provided a wealth of information for better understanding of communication and different ways of working among humans in BIM, one quote from presenter John Cannistraro of Massachusetts-based Mechanical/Electrical contractor Cannistraro stood out after his presentation on “Green & Light Green: Is BIM the Catalyst for Experience.”

“Respect between workers cannot come from anything but proficiency,” Cannistraro said.

Visit the BIMForum website for recordings of the presentations and to learn more about The Human Side of BIM.