Sharpen Your Axe!

April 17, 2015

“If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.”

-Abraham Lincoln

bim, revit, tesseract, portland

One of the most common excuses I hear from design professionals regarding why they don’t want to switch from 2D drafting to BIM is, “I just don’t have the time.” This is akin to being too busy chopping wood to sharpen your axe.

It can seem difficult to find the time to make important changes. When deadlines loom, the tunnel vision sets in and it becomes almost impossible to focus on anything other than the immediate task at hand. Unfortunately, this can get to be a downward spiral of time and pressure. For AEC firms, particularly small ones, it can be a constant mad scramble to complete work, or a constant mad scramble to find work. Finding time to switch to BIM from 2D drafting seems nearly impossible. Such a huge workflow change seems too disruptive, even if implementing it would result in a substantial increase in productivity. Pretty soon all one can do is keep chopping madly with an ever-duller axe.

It takes an effort to shake off the tunnel vision the proposal/deadline spiral, but that effort is well worth the reward – even if it moves you out of your comfort zone for a while. I know this quite well, for I had a similar experience as an architecture student. During the last term of the aptly-named “terminal studio,” I decided to step away from my design work in order to teach myself a proto-BIM application called Architectural Desktop (ADT). Doing this was not an easy matter. There is a great deal of pressure associated with the final design studio in architecture school, and to simply quit designing with only a few weeks to go until the final review was a tough call. I spent a week working through a “Teach Yourself ADT” book while all around me my colleagues were cranking away on their designs. I wondered if I hadn’t made a big mistake, but I had seen what ADT could do, and knew that it was going to be worth it in the long run.

Of course, it paid off. Once my week of self-imposed training had finished, I was about to launch back into my design work with greatly increased efficiency. I was easily able to create a good design and great-looking graphics for the presentation with significantly less effort than I would have needed if I hadn’t learned ADT.

BIM tools like Revit are even more powerful than ADT – and arguably easier to learn. BIM promises much greater efficiency and streamlined graphics creation, and I have to admit that I am frequently puzzled as to the resistance that some folks in the AEC industry show towards adopting this incredible set of tools. (Also, keep in mind that BIM literacy is going to be a greater factor in firm competitiveness, too – but that’s a topic for another post.)

So get out there and sharpen your axe! Take the time to make a plan and transition to BIM from the outdated 2D drafting workflow. Take a tip from Honest Abe: the time you spend sharpening your metaphorical axe will be repaid many-fold by the increased amount of wood that you’ll be able to chop.

For more information on how Tesseract Design can help you wield the sharp axe of BIM, please see