Ever got that scolding look of your partner late at night while scrolling the latest news about BIM on your smartphone? Ever felt puzzled by the blank look on your parents' faces while trying to explain what you do? BIM what, BIM who? Being a BIM expert you might be drowning your explanations in abbreviations and terms your more … um … laic audience may not be getting and that may be the reason you find it hard to get your excitement across. Well, worry not friend, here is the ultimate guide to introducing your significant others to the topic of BIM.
Step 1: Keep it basic
Try and explain with simple words what Building Information Modeling (BIM) represents, without getting at IFC, COBie and the nitty-gritty of it. If you manage to get some sincere nodding and genuine interest, skip Step 2.
Step 2: Use metaphors
If you entangle the concept of BIM with something everyone knows and understands you will certainly achieve better results. Don't worry that you might be dumbing your audience down - after all it was Albert Einstein who once said “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. "
Keeping it simple, the metaphor I like to use is the "Lego" metaphor.
People often find it hard to perceive a building not as an entity, but as a sum of its parts. That is why, I start by explaining that much like a building made of different shaped and coloured Legos, a building is made of many different products. On the one hand, each product or a Lego piece carries a specific characteristics - it has a colour and a shape. On the other hand, there is the "instruction" the model that you usually get on paper that says what goes where. The first and easy part of explaining BIM is to urge them to imagine this instruction as digital 3D model. Big part of BIM is being a multidimensional digital model that helps the construction process of the structure being built.
However, BIM is more than that.
BIM is about that specific data that characterizes each Lego block and its connections to the blocks around it. BIM is about this data being made available to everyone at any time and in any format. BIM also is the process which helps each child (actor in the construction process) from a group of children speaking different languages to understand which piece goes where and delegate the work on the Lego house to her/his multilingual friends. BIM is thus helping them to work together form the beginning to the end of their building project without information or process loss. Gosh, imagine those kids playing together that will be grand!
Anyways, here you go - you have explained the data rich, object-oriented parametric digital representation of a building project that the BIM process is all about.
Step 3: Share the significance
Here we come to the hard part. Getting your significant others to understand what keeps you up at night. Try and explain that BIM is revolutionising not only the way we build, but also the ways we know and communicate. Knowing what goes into a building has a great impact on the personal, social and environmental levels of construction. Through BIM each professional benefits from better cooperation with his/hers counterparts and better informed decisions concerning the role one has to play within the stages of the construction process. All stakeholders including the local community benefit from knowing that each activity within the project is traceable and transparent and can be accounted for. Construction sustainability is now more achievable than ever as sustainable products can be now specified at the early design stage and maintained as the primary choice for each consecutive construction development.
Step 4: Get them excited
Tell them about the social aspect of BIM. There are now hundreds of thousands construction industry professionals who are constantly involved with thinking, writing, developing BIM. It has become something of a buzz word in the sector. If you want to get into a seven-hour-long discussion with a colleague from Australia on the environmental impact of BIM or discuss the benefits of COBie with a person from the US, you only have to go online. See, Momma, I am not making these words up!
Step 5: Be prepared
Hey, sometimes your college friends you used to finish up a keg with are not the best audience to excite with BIM. Be prepared to have some people wave you off and urge you to talk about the weather. Don't panic - you will always have the BIMhub to sooth your BIM excitement cravings, right?
P.S. We would really be interested in reading the metaphors you chose to explain BIM with to your people and their reactions - so share them below!