Popping the hood

Acting as the Mechanic in an Architectural Design firm requires openness and an understanding of the design goals and needs of your team.

Think of when you take a car to an auto mechanic:  it’s rare to hear that you are driving the vehicle incorrectly. Instead, the mechanic will listen to your description of the problem before popping the hood or taking a test drive to gather information. The mechanic needs to put aside ideas of proper use to focus on what their team needs to make the project move ahead.

Popping the Hood

The best BIM managers work as a visible part of the office team. To be visible is to be open-minded and continually have your ears open. As I stated in my post Thinking outside the box you need to get the team comfortable. Remember continually checking on your team and having the regular chats gives you more information than waiting for them to come to you.

I use the following list to embed myself into project discussions and ideas. I make sure all questions are phrased as such, and make sure my tone is not accusatory or brisk:

  • Walk the office looking at computer screens and asking what they are working on.
  • Ask team members  how they got the information they are using.
  • Review the model prior to people starting their work day and make notes on what I see.
  • Keep my ears open to conversations happening around me and interjecting if I can add any useful information.
  • Keep a positive attitude and inquisitive nature; you might learn a new process.

The other key to getting involved is to train the BIM tools efficiently: train to people’s needs and abilities. Without an understanding of the baseline skills of your team you may inadvertently allow some to struggle without understanding while others become frustrated with what to them feels remedial.  Keys to successful BIM Tools training:

  • Don’t teach them the same way you teach the person next to them, everybody has different learning styles.
  • Only use 1-4 hour training modules; don’t make them sit all day
  • Record the training so they can review later.
  • Create handouts of your process.
  • Review company projects to see the gaps and train

Make sure your team knows there is a role for BIM in every project, even when it is not in the contract. As BIM manager there is nothing more satisfying than to talk with a team and realize you can provide assistance with a new tool to facilitate a proposal to the client.  There is always something you can provide to help create amazing presentations for the client.

This is the most important role of the BIM manager to teach your team. Teaching them about these tools specific to their needs will improve all the work your office produces, while creating a true collaboration between the mechanic and designer.

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