20 September 2019
Dr Graham Kelly, Director BIM Academy and Consultant at Evolve8.
BIM Academy has worked with several organisations over the last eight years who are looking to drive value through implementing BIM. These organisations have consisted of design teams, contractors, large estate owners, councils and large multinationals. All with very different management structures, processes, technology and contributions to the built environment, but all with the aspiration that better use of digital technology and smart processes will enhance their business operations.
Often when an organisation approaches BIM Academy, they understand that they should implement BIM, but are unsure how to start or what that means. Often perplexed by the number of standards available, the number of acronyms to learn and how it fits into current processes. They are clearly hamstrung by the magnitude of the task at hand. We believe that the implementation of BIM is much more a change management task than simply throwing a bunch of software and document templates at an organisation and demanding the use of COBie or more simplistically, Revit…
A change management model that BIM Academy have used over the years to support the implementation of BIM within organisations is the John Kotter 8 Steps of Change. This model succinctly breaks down the stages any organisation could go through when implementing a change. There are of course other models and ways of implementing change, however, it is felt that this is a good starting point. The following paragraphs discusses the different stages in the change management model and some elements to consider.
Create a Sense of Urgency
The first element of the Kotter model is to create a sense of urgency. Most organisations that BIM Academy have worked with have already created this sense of urgency, they understand that they need to do something to incorporate the BIM process. However, often, the value of why they are making this change is forgotten or has not been considered. It is critical at this early stage to understand why an organisation is looking to change. Is it to save money, to stay ahead of competition, or to catch up with the competition? Often the answer to this fundamental question leads to a very different set of recommendations and actions.
Build a Coalition
The second element to consider is for an organisation to build a guiding coalition. With any change, it is vital that the organisation takes ownership of the change through informed employees. It is often the case that BIM Academy will provide support and guidance to these employees, rather than trying to make wholesale changes from the outside looking in.
Form a Strategic Vision
Once a guiding coalition is formed a strategic vision needs to be created, this should be a high level statement of intent about how BIM is going to support the aims of the business. Often these statements will include objectives such as improved consistency, increased efficiency or winning more work.
Build an Enthusiastic Army
BIM Academy often work with the guiding coalition to create a set of actions to implement the change within an organisation, it is then important to enlist an army of enthusiastic employees who will look to support the agreed actions.
One of the most significant barriers to the implementation of change that BIM Academy has experienced is when the organisation does not have buy in from senior leadership. Leadership must enable action though investment in resources to ensure actions can take place. The most successful changes BIM Academy have seen are within organisations that liberate employees to carry out the action plan that has been put in place unhindered by other project commitments.
Generate Quick Wins
The most critical element of any change management plan is to put elements in place that generate quick wins. Often organisations are paralysed by the enormity of a task like the implementation of BIM and they don’t know where to start. BIM Academy often recommend pilot projects where key components of the action plan can be put into practice and lessons can be learnt. It is also vital that these lessons are recorded and reported back into the organisation.
Once quick wins have been established and recorded, it is necessary to build on these successes and lessons. Further pilot projects can be established, or new technology implemented, again, it is important to do this incrementally and with strategic goals in mind.
The final element of the Kotter model states that the change needs to stick, this seems obvious, but it is often the hardest part, to stop employees falling back into old habits.
Iterate and Evolve
One aspect that often gets forgotten, is that the Kotter model is meant to be cyclical, where once elements have been changed, organisations should be looking to change again, implement new technology and process that will take them even further. It is only when this model of constant change is established, where it is believed that truly innovative organisations can evolve. To take a sporting analogy, Legacy, a book written about the world beating All Blacks stated that you should always: Go for the gap, when you are on top of your game, change your game. Adaption is not reaction, but everyday action.