By Craig Barbieri
Introducing an innovation in one’s firm is a little bit like the role of a salesperson(vendor/Rep/etc.) I would argue a very important role if you intend to be successful. Innovations seldomly sell themselves. There’s always someone in the line of approvals who doesn’t see the value. In a past life I was a salesman for a short period.
In the mid-90’s I was an account executive at a routing logistics software company, and I was responsible for the Northeast USA. I made “sales calls” and introduced value justifications for purchasing the innovative system of ours to trucking and delivery companies. The technology was so new that few people had even heard of computer routing, let alone had a computer doing anything for them in this regard. I wasn’t very good at selling the system but I learned a lot about sales and the drivers that lead to them. Now that the tables are turned, and I am typically on the purchasing side of things, I feel I have some very useful insight to help negotiate and get the best deals for my firm. On the other hand I am also in “sales” to some degree. I’m selling the partners on why we should spend gobs of money on something that they’ve never hear of or understand fully. I do this because I take ownership of the technological path of the company and see the “big picture” as it were.
Techniques with which to introduce and “sell” within our firms might be a good topic of discussion. DTS is a week away and we’ll be discussing Innovation and aspects surrounding it, among other things. Bring your own questions, challenges, ideas, and conundrums!
It’s a statement that gets thrown around every once in-awhile and was perhaps more in vogue historically than in current memory. Interestingly enough it comes from the title of a book “Innovate or Die : A Personal Perspective on the Art of Innovation” by Dr. Jack Matson; almost ten years earlier there was another book “Grow or Die” by George Land. Was the second influenced by the first; perhaps Land was a C-level business consultant putting forward a hypothesis around the nature of all things, organic, humanity, commerce being linked intrinsically around basic rules related to growth. You either grow, or die. Whereas Matson’s thesis was fail quickly and fail often as a means to be successful. Most interesting, Matson is an engineer by training, how many engineers do you know that go around preaching to their employees “we should fail on figuring out how to make this building stand-up”.
I’m being a bit facetious of course, arguably we fail every day as part of the process of designing a building or at least architects do, and I think the most successful engineers take a similar iterative approach. It’s far better for us to fail “on paper” than in the real world and undoubtedly Matson knew that when he wrote his book. We even try our hardest to fail in the real world before full construction by way of mock-ups, physical and now more and more virtual, with virtual reality gear and everything.
Obviously (if you’ve been reading any of our blog posts) you know by now that DTS’ theme this year is innovation and I think we’ve put together some really great topics to anchor our discussions (see our site for a full agenda). If we are by our nature innovative in our profession, that is attempting to fail until we find the right solution, what does that mean to us, to technology? Are we guaranteed to evolve? Are there consequences if we do not? Are there consequences for not being broadly innovative, so for example being “innovative” in how a project is designed, but failing to be innovative about the process that results in the design. Must you have both to be successful long term or can the innovation only happen in the results of practice and not the practice itself?
Practice itself is an interesting term unto itself, we “practice architecture” (or engineering, or law, or medicine) does the etymology itself imply Matson’s title? If we are always practicing, then do we ever compete, do we ever finish the race and what does that imply or mean in the context of innovation?
Are you scratching your head yet? If you are, then you belong with us at DTS in Toronto! We have a few spots left and we’d love to fill them. Please consider applying to attend through our registration process, if you’re keen to think hard and talk about what all this means and more then you belong with our group!
Valid question! For a variety of reasons the committee did not finalize our agenda until just recently and we do apologize for that. We’ve discussed quite a bit in our blog posts sense January about the ideas of Innovation and why we think it really is an important discussion topic, but it is also quite nuanced and, in order for us to have useful discussions about “Innovation” then we really need to make sure we’re focused!
So, what will our focus be? Glad you asked, here are our program highlights; once again totaling nearly ten hours of discussion in a day in half!
- Welcome to Innovation! What is it (really)? – An opportunity to discuss what innovation is to each of us and, hopefully, come to consensus on how we define it for Design Technology.
- What are they doing…? – A look at innovations in other industries and how we could apply or learn from them.
- Ghosts of Innovations Past & the Future – What innovations have we seen in the past and how can we use that recognition to anticipate the future?
- Technology & Innovation: In a relationship or just friends? – Design Technology and the platforms we have available to us have both advanced significantly and perhaps not at all. In any case we can “do” a lot more than we could a decade ago so why aren’t we happy? What do we need to innovate or where is Innovation required?
- What should we be doing to help shape the future of our practice? – We’ve spent nearly a day discussing innovation in our industry, its past, its present and possible future; what does all of that potentially mean to people like “us” i.e. Design Technologist’s. What is/will our role be in the future as technology changes/ improves.
If you’re picking up on a Dicken’s theme, you’re not mistaken, in our discussions over the last six months and looking at research done by others I think it’s clear that in order to look to the future we do need to understand the past, in addition we must understand our place relative to innovation, technology and what we mean by those terms in the first place.
We still have a few seats left (call it ten) and we’d love to fill them. If you think innovation is important to the progress of Architecture & Engineering then you should join us! Attendees of BILT will receive a Multi-event discount.
Are you a technology company working in the AEC sphere? Trying to attract attention? Want to show your support of Design Technologists and how important it is for us to have a forum for open and honest communication, then talk to us about sponsorship opportunities, we have something for every level.
Regardless, need help? We’re only an e-mail away at secretary AT rtcevents DoT com
See you at DTS & BILT NA
The Design Technology Summit has posed questions like “Is BIM Better” and “Where does this BIM path lead [the industry]” and do we have a “BIM Hangover?” We have discussed topics such as design technology Management, Collaboration, Innovation, Training, Content & it’s management, Challenges, Standards, Productivity, Virtual Reality, Project Management, BIM Project Budgeting, and many more. Some attendees argue that although the in-session discussions are quite pertinent to modern day challenges and highly valuable, the conversations in-between sessions and at the social events are also just as valuable if not more-so. No-where else does one see 40 design technology leaders of large firms get together to discuss the industry challenges and solutions. This year we tackle the topic of “innovation” in and outside of the AEC and the Summit agenda is fantastic! If you’ve never attended, I encourage you to request an invitation below.
Design Technology Leaders is an independent & agnostic collective of design technology leaders and directors of over 250 large firms internationally, with over 300 participating members and maintains unique insight into challenges of AEC collaboration. DTS brings together professionals from large firms in the building Architecture and Engineering (AE) design industry who have a responsibility for managing and implementing design technology. DTS is a forum, a venue to discuss ideas – to share, to challenge, and to refine our thinking. The design world is a constantly evolving landscape driven by the adoption of BIM tools, availability of increased computing power, the ubiquity of mobile solutions and “always on” data access. These new paradigms challenge the traditional operations of AE firms and have resulted in a new domain of expertise at the intersection of technology and practice.
Attendance at DTS is by invitation only and limited to 40 registrants. We feel that his number will better foster an atmosphere of active and meaningful discussions between everyone.
- If you received an invitation, we are hopeful that you are able to join your fellow invitees.
- If you have questions feel free to contact [email protected]
• If you think you belong at this event, but did not receive an invitation, please email [email protected] to sign-up for future follow-up and communication (Please include your name, e-mail, title, company, company size, address (optional), and a brief response on “why you belong at DTS”?).
Recently we printed our first multi-material, 1/8th scale model of our high-rise urban habitat we call “Falcon Tower”. We ran into some issues with material fusion such that the structural analysis model didn’t match with the data we were getting from the printed sensors. The sensors were reporting a striated mix of concrete and steel in the core that was compromising the structure and that would not meet the safety requirements when printed at full-scale. Being such a new technology, it’s understandable that serious issues like this will arise and this is the reason that we went to the expense of printing a scale model. From the perspective of the design-technology leader, I feel the weight of this initial failure bearing down on me. Clearly though, there’s an issue with the translation and scaling of the BIM to the current build of the MMP software because the hardware checked-out fine and the model passed both an automated quality check and a visual quality check done by yours-truly. Still, there’s a lot riding on this for our company as well as a risk of great expense for our client so there can be no question as to the reliability of the delivery process. Luckily, through my participation in the Deign Technology Summit over the years, I’ve forged some great relationships with my peers, most of which are venturing down the same path with multi-material building printing, and I can reach out to them to see if they are experiencing the same issues at scale and discuss solutions that I may have overlooked. Innovation can be a double-edge sword but I believe that without great risk there is seldom great reward.
This is fiction. One day in the near future I may be having this issue and I’m certain that I’ll still be relying on the colleagues I’ve met at DTS to help solve the issues quickly. Join this community of Design Technology Leaders this summer in Toronto to talk about innovation and other topics, and take a step towards a greater future for your company through a knowledge network that’s unmatched in this industry.
Our attendance is capped at 40, so please apply early. If you’d like to attend but did not receive an invitation, please email us at: [email protected] and include your name, e-mail, title, company, approximate number of employees, company website and a brief response on “why you belong at DTS”. I look forward to seeing you there!