Over lunch, the guys at my table talk about the problems of staff. The tendency is that those who understand technology are too specialized to be useful, and those with the knowledge to be useful are not technologically literate. The ideal employee is a generalist who can use computers: be able to run Revit, yet know how the building goes together.
I suggested that this will always be a problem going forward, as computers are a part of every professional occupation, yet people have different levels of inate ability to understand how technology works. The guys agreed that this is not a generational issue but individuals' ability -- almost the right-brain left-brain issue.
I asked about their thoughts on the cloud. One table mate said he did not care where data resided, just like his payroll was on a server in Spain or somewhere. He did complain about the term "cloud," which only served to confuse the issue: "The data is stored on computer on the Internet" is more definite than "it's on the cloud."
Another table mate (from HOK) complained that running Revit remotely on Citrix always resulted in lags. The bandwidth was sufficient; but there is always a bottleneck somewhere and so they are always spending time trying to locate it. It irritates CAD operators when Revit stalls because the bits aren't arriving fast enough over the pipes.
Read comments from attendees through Twitter on #RTCDTC
Session 3: Innovation
To make the sessions faster paced, presenters are limited to six points and each point is limited to six words.
The after lunch session is on innovation, specifically how companies implement innovation and where the priorities are. Each attendee was asked where innovation needed to take place, and then the responses were diagrammed according to the firm each represented. (Some firms have up to four attendees.)
The number 1 desire was better processes. Others included people and tools. "Does anyone here have a clear and focused process for improving productivity?" asks the seminar leader.
Attendee 1: "Working on the assumption that water moves downhill, we try to make it as easy as possible. We don't have a CAD standards manual, we build them into the software so that they are applied automatically."
Attendee 2: "Our standards are integrated into a template, and so it is ownership of responsibility of the way people work. If people have to follow a checklist, then productivity plummets. Instead, they are told, 'This is your project; your are not getting a ding or red light flashing for not following standards.' The idea is to understand why the standard is not being followed."
Attendee 3: His idea of innovation is, "Just because you learned that something worked well in the past projects, don't let that experience prevent you from learning anything new and apply it to future projects."
Attendee 4: "For innovation to work, you have allow standards to change. Standards are the opposite of innovation. Just like you have to add some cuts to concrete to make it crack the way you want."
How do you scale innovation to the whole team?
"We keep mixing up the people on new projects. It is to place good people as catalysts in projects. We spread out innovative people as much as possible. It's fine to do blog posts, presentations, but the best thing is to allow it to go viral."
How do you allow that latitude, and is there an expectation of a return?
"A lot of it is to put the right people with different interests in a room and allowing them to run the project. There is no guarantee that there will be innovation every time -- kind of like putting together a group of good musicians. Something interesting will spring forth, even when there is a risk that crap may result."
"We do really awesome things once, and then never doing it again. As people are on the job site, they are divorced -- 40 miles away -- from the office. How do we pay for innovation, how do we train for it?"
Session 4: Open Forum
After the coffee/tea break, we are ready for the final hour, fueled by rice crispy squares and gourmet cookies. The RTC committee wanted attendees to walk away from this meeting with more than, "Yah, we spent the day talking about BIM." This is why they got an official transcriber (not me!) who recorded what everyone said by typing r-e-a-l-ly fast.
"We need to do a better job of not preaching to the choir. We're pretty good at talking amongst ourselves. The only way we will influence industry is by getting out the ideas into the community."
"I could use a forum discussion like this one, on a weekly basis."
"Once a week, I hold a 15-minute conference call with one person from every department. A different person is designated the leader, who spends the first five minutes with his issue, and then other contribute solutions, if they know one."
"We are stubborn optimists, because we love the technology. Laggers just want to get their job done."
The closing discussion is over the worth of today's event, and how to make it useful for the future.
End of Day
The day is done. Join me again tomorrow for the first day of Revit Technology Conference, starting with the keynotes.