Who will win the BIM lottery?

A recent topic of conversation for me with other BIM professionals has recently been the sharing of BIM ideas. I have always been an avid supporter of the open sharing of digital ideas. But recently I have begun to think that BIM's open format is in need of some structure.

I have posted before about three items that I hope can highlight why I think more structure is needed. The first item is BIM PxP's (Item #1). They are a prime example of a widespread BIM idea that is not functioning correctly. That's not to say that it was not a good idea to begin with. But it's been many years since the idea of a BIM execution plan was conceived and we are still seeing it evolve inside of a bubble. What I mean is that there are ever changing BIM PxP's all claiming to be the solution when in reality they are all different levels of the same thing. This bubble that I speak of is one of the reasons the BIM Gap (Item #2) exists.

One reason the BIM Gap is around is because BIM had it's beginnings as a theory, not a practice. There were a lot of proponents of BIM that were pointing out the advantages that technology could afford us and constructed plausible work flows for how this technology should be implemented.  Some of the theory's had case studies to back them up. It was all a very good idea. It was such a good idea that the forward-thinking individuals in our industry grabbed a hold of it and ran with it. Implementing these new ideas where they could and continuously supporting them in public forums until BIM became the monster it is today. A necessary component of any AEC firm and the desire of owners everywhere. Except when a person or group tries to actually put it into practice. That's when the BIM Gap becomes visible. All of those forward thinking people that grabbed onto the idea, ran so far ahead with BIM that they have separated themselves from actual industry and their ideas are no longer in touch with actual practice.

The BIM people have created a bubble for themselves where we think we are evolving practice but in reality we are just bouncing around equally unusable ideas. Things like the BIM PxP have become like ping-pong balls in a lottery machine and the rest of the industry is still waiting for their number to pop out. And the more ping pong balls we add to the machine the more the rest of the industry becomes skeptical that their number will ever actually get pulled.

And that brings me to what I think is the current obligation of BIM people today. We need to stop adding ping pong balls to the machine and find something the rest of the industry can hold onto. We need to stop making everything so open because it has become too confusing to a non-BIM person. The more blank templates and spreadsheets we make, the larger the BIM Gap gets, and the harder it is to have real BIM implementation gain traction.

There will always be one-off successes and exceptions. I am sure that many people will comment about how they are performing every aspect of BIM without issue. But I don't think we should be satisfied with that. Where did the talk go about a paradigm shift? Shouldn't our goal be to provide tools that are useful to the non-BIM people on the other side of the BIM Gap. Have we become so lost in our own great ideas that we have forgotten those who don't understand them? We need to create standards (Item #3) that are easily understood and that are easy to apply. Every time we create more empty templates and time intensive tools we are hurting our industry.

It seems better to us BIM people because we want new ways to manipulate the ever increasing data. But if we are the only ones that get it and the general user stops wanting to understand then we have failed. And I see that failure happening all the time all over the industry. As I head into Autodesk University this week I think this is a good topic to post. Because if we are not careful, we will all be getting together just to add more ping pong balls to the lottery and decreasing the odds that anyone will win.

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