The opportunist is like a vulture. Circling those lost in the BIM desert and waiting to pick their bones clean when they finally succumb from overexposure to useless information. All opportunists have the same exact message. "BIM is so complicated that you can't possibly understand it. Only I have the ability to do it for you." And then to convince you of their BIM prowess they begin to talk about everything in BIM at the highest level they are capable of.
Where there is confusion there is opportunity.
The opportunist uses the confusion they create to help themselves. In design and construction firms, they use this confusion to get jobs in BIM they are not actually capable of doing. Since their bosses don't know what they are talking about, they can keep up this charade for quite some time. It is very difficult for the non-BIM people to vet out those that are "all hat and no cowboy".
In research and academia, they use confusion to get published and included in industry standards. This is opportunism at a totally different level. Research can actually be good research, but becomes bad when those same researchers use confusion, to force their ideas into practice without any actual practical testing. That would be like drug companies taking their products straight to market without needing FDA approval. All they have to do is bury enough people in research papers and high level language and they forget that research does not equal practice. Keep in mind I do not speak of all research and academia here. I know many good researchers and academics. But the drive to gain recognition can make some people do things that are not good for the industry.
Some 3rd Party consultants and software vendors make use of the confusion about BIM in the worst way. They do their best to make sure that BIM appears very confusing, because it equates to them being hired more often. I realize that there is a fine line here between business opportunity and taking complete advantage of BIM users. I don't feel that this applies to major software vendors. The major vendors have their tricks no doubt, but I think they do a good job in keeping those in the category of business acumen. But there are those that you will find feeding off every major BIM project that was attempted by those without the skill to achieve it. The opportunist sits and waits outside the door so when they come looking for help they are there selling their own special brand of snake-oil.
How do you identify the opportunist?
For construction and design firms, I would recommend finding a BIM person that can bring the ideas down to a basic level. If you find yourself confused by what they are saying, don't be shy about telling them that. A real expert will have the ability to present the ideas at any level. And this is what you want from someone that will be teaching your average user BIM. Keeping the ideas at the highest level is a danger sign, of someone who is trying to take advantage of you.
For research and academia, the most important thing to look for is a large amount of industry involvement when it comes to the practical application of research. We don't have the FDA, so there are no predetermined steps a researcher needs to take in order to get their ideas to market. A lot of times this means that good ideas have to be pushed to industry before they are thoroughly tested. But they should never be pushed to industry without industry being involved in their creation. Unless you want to be an unknowing test subject, research the research, before you use it.
When it comes to 3rd party consultants and software vendors, the most telling sign is a product or process that inevitably will involve more of their services to use. Signing on with these companies is equivalent to getting yourself an everlasting tick. In order to continue operating under their systems you will need to keep funneling money to something while you do not really understand what you are getting in return. This last point is what separates the opportunist from a company with good business acumen. I may regularly funnel money to the large software firms but at least I understand what I am paying for and find value in it. Never let someone confuse you into spending lots of money on something that offers little to no return on investment. This is the tactic of the opportunist.
There was one particular event that caused me to write this post. At first I considered it to be something childish and ridiculous. But then I realized how inappropriate it was. Recently my friend, John Grady (Epic BIM founder) was involved in some discussions on LinkedIn and overnight all of his posts were being censored in almost every discussion group he was a part of. That was probably 2 dozen plus groups, if I was to guess. The only explanation for this is that a small group of people must have gone to every group he was in and flagged him enough to stop his posts. It had to be the same people because it happened overnight and in so many groups.
Now John may be persistent and confrontational, but I have never seen his LinkedIn comments be inappropriate. My only conclusion, is that whoever did this was being threatened by John's comments and decided to flag them. I encourage anyone in regular BIM LinkedIn discussion groups to look at recent comments John has made and make your own determination about who would be the most threatened by what he has to say. When I did this, it made me start to think about John's statement written at the top of this page.
So my response was to create a group where John and others that want to challenge the industry can talk in a free and open discussion about the BIM issues of the day. I started the Epic BIM LinkedIn discussion group. This will be the venue for discussion of this and all future Epic BIM posts. So please go join the LinkedIn group and be a part of the discussions that will free the BIM users from the chains of the unknown.