BIM 2050 Group response to the Edge Commission Report

Tekla acceleratesAs for many in our Industry, the conclusions of Paul Morrell’s report on the future of professionalism came as no surprise to members of the BIM 2050 Group. We are forward thinking modern professionals, we’re ambitious, we’re driven and we’re adaptable. It is evident to all of us that the future lies in effective collaboration. It is a human imperative that we drastically improve the performance of our built environment to support a sustainable future, and it is obvious to BIM2050 members that the only way to do this is to work together: to collaborate.

So the recommendations of the report excite us. We read “Collaboration for Change” as a call to arms; a direct challenge to cross-institutional groups such as ourselves to embrace our cross-disciplinary nature, join forces and lead from the front. We’re energised, we’re animated, and even better, we’re doing it already.

Each of the 15 individuals in our group represents an institution member of the CIC, exactly those bodies that Paul Morrell explains are “in their silo-based nature….failing to demonstrate leadership; lacking the will to come together..;….risking alienating or disaffecting the young”. We’ve each made a commitment to work with each other to share ideas and data. We communicate frankly, openly and in an environment of trust. We’re resolved to make some real measurable progress, leading to outcomes with real value and impact, and share the results freely around our professions, the industry, and beyond. The enthusiasm, and the depth and pace of our exchanges, has I think taken us all by surprise!

Where did we start? The last months have seen us developing, using online cross-platform software, and an agreed plan of action. First and foremost, it is that: a plan of ACTION, not reaction, debate or contemplation. We’ve identified five facets of activity, each embracing the twin essentials of technology and culture. We’ll be agents in Process, Procurement, Education, Skills, and Market Structure; a couple of team members leading in each. We’re developing simple, practical messages and tools to move the industry forward in each of these areas: and we’ll be sharing them all, for open-source use, comment, trial and improvement, we hope leading to adoption.

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So this is our response to the Edge Report: demonstrable, valuable action. Too many reports have begat reports, and too many carefully crafted manifestos for change have been greeted with impulsive cheers and sage nodding of heads, followed by a return to norms and habits. The excellent report by our predecessor BIM 2050 Group in 2014 was the catalyst for us: we refuse this time to return to the status quo. Together, we’re creating, experimenting, testing, failing and sometimes succeeding in developing our own practices, and we’re getting ready to share them with the industry in the hope we can all move forward together to shape our Future Professions.

Here is a small selection of actions from ‘Collaboration for Change’ which we are currently addressing:

“Collectively promote the built environment as a career path of choice….”[Recommendation B2]

•             Our members have been out in schools presenting at careers fairs and supporting the activities of Class of Your Own and DEC. When we talk about construction careers, we talk across the industry, not just about our own specialism. Being ambitious young people ourselves, we’re aware of how flat the industry can look from the outside, and we’re working to change that, encouraging and celebrating innovation. We’re reaching out to young industry members through blogs, social media and interest groups. We’re currently working together on a specific tool for promoting awareness of Built Environment careers to school-age children.

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“Provide the means of allowing and encouraging greater movement between professions during a career.” [B3, and related to B5]

•             This rings very true to many of our members, and was apparent as we shared career path stories. Several of us have switched institutional allegiance as our careers have matured and morphed away from any expected ‘plan’. This excites us professionally, and this fluid nature of the modern professional encourages innovation. We need to support this: with better cross-institutional understanding of expertise and sharing of benchmarking strategies. Again, we’re working with others in the early stages of developing a tool to assist this.

“Establish a shared vision as to structural reform of the industry that would improve the industry’s offer to client and society.” [D1 and D2]

•             The 2014 BIM2050 Group Report set out some exciting predictions of the future structure and activity within our industry. Even since the publication of that document, further developments have moved us along that path: this is a time of rapid change. Our group are looking at the tools and processes required to support new structures (for example in training and procurement), speaking with digital entrepreneurs outside construction, as well as institutional task groups. We’re seeking to identify processes where new technology can enable us to improve efficiency, communication, and effect positive change within and without the industry.

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