Can You Say "Change" Twenty-Four Times?

Posted by Mark Sawyer on Mar 15, 2010 11:19:00 AM


My life as an executive is all about decisions with just a few absolutes (a.k.a. unchanging values) and many, many operational trade-off's.  The operational questions morph as fast as the environment around us, and making the right decision at any point in time requires a mix of broad perspective, speed, and detailed knowledge - enough detailed knowledge to determine what can succeed and what can't.  Following right behind every business decision is, of course, the implementation of some change within the company in order to effect that decision.  And making that change is often the real trick.  Years ago a friend summed it up for me in what I call Spenser's Razor - "The best plan is the one you can actually get done."


One operational consideration around change comes up time and again.  It is a very human consideration and your answer to it is nothing short of a direct reflection on the culture of your company.  The question is, "Can your employees make the change that is required, and can you make that change really stick?"  Or better yet, "Can you make that change really stick until the NEXT change that you have to make?"  Change is hard.  By definition it is going to force someone(s) out of their comfort zone.  My colleague, Dr. Olli Seppanen, has blogged about contractors' resistance to change in BIM implementations whether by the estimating team, project managers, superintendants, executives, or others.  Countless books are written on the subject of change, but I have yet to discover a magic formula.  Making change happen is so dependent on the circumstances surrounding you that one magic formula escapes us. 


I offer no formula here but, like most of you, I know a few of the ingredients.  For example, participating in change has to be safe.  Teammates have to know that it is OK to miss... just as long as you get up, dust yourself off, and try again.  Likewise, succeeding in change has to bear some reward.  Those who lead the change and those who embrace the change must become the positive examples in your company that others are inspired to follow. 


Good leaders create an internal appetite for change.  Great companies learn to direct that internal appetite at the issues most important to their customers, and they realize that external factors can magnify or diminish that appetite.  If there is a silver lining in the cloud that is today's construction economy, it is that appetite for change has been magnified.  Your employees know that something has to change if you are going to remain successful in a construction economy where commercial starts are down nearly 50%, all new starts are down over 25%, and unemployment has risen to a level that, heretofore, only our grandparents had known.  Change now is an obvious requirement, and few leaders are experiencing the resistance to change that characterized the past.


I see this situation playing out in our customers' ranks today.  This BIM thing is more than a passing fad, and firms are acting on their magnified appetite for change.  5D Virtual Construction does require significant change, but enough experience has been gathered by the leaders to know, without question, there is a safe transition and there is a real reward.  Leaders can point to project costs avoided, fewer reactive RFI's, compressed project schedules, and a genuinely collaborative process that delivers a superior owner experience.  They can also point to better performance in recruiting top talent and higher employee morale even with today's torrid work pace.   Perhaps most importantly, these leading firms are winning the projects they want to win; easily differentiating themselves from those builders who have yet to embrace this change


Virtual Construction technology is not the driver here.  It is the enabler through which progressive builders are changing the way projects are planned and built.  We've all known for years that something had to change in the building industry.  Now we are experiencing a simultaneous magnification of the appetite and a technological means to actually get it done and make it stick.  Spenser's Razor strikes again.


Holly's Note:
We have some great resources available on this website to help you get started or get those around you up to speed on BIM in Construction.  Here are a few helpful links:
>> The BIM Master Class Series
>> The BIM Checklist (what your competition is saying they do and what you need to be offering Owners)
>> Using BIM in a Hard Bid Series
>> Win the Deal offerings from our Professional Services Team

Tags: commercial construction market, resistance to change in BIM implementations, changing construciton, BM Master Class, Hard Bid BIM, Win the Deal, Virtual Construction, BIM Checklist