The Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) division wwill meet March 17-19 in Las Vegas. There’s a lot more that will come out of this event than just the annual meet and greet. For one, the Technical Committee is writing a “Curtainwall Fenestration Systems Manual” that’s meant to be a primer for new architects and industry newcomers on exterior glazing. We hope to have the first three sections published later this year. If you’ve been looking for a way to contribute to the industry, this is only one of many opportunities. Please contact Urmilla Sowell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sara Neiswanger (email@example.com) if you’d like to contribute — even if you’re not going to Vegas.
And, now for some random thoughts …
BIM and Communication
According to one blog, BIM usage today is three times greater than what it was in 2010 – that’s a big change in only three years.
And, the lawsuits are already starting to hit the courthouses. Check out this interesting post about a suit involving BIM and communication. As good as BIM can be, the architect in this instance allegedly made an assumption about the construction sequencing and didn’t pass that on to the general contractor (GC). The GC sequenced the HVAC work differently than the architect envisioned, and the HVAC contractor couldn’t complete his work. Now, I don’t begin to understand how that scenario is possible, but it must have been pretty serious if it ended up at the courthouse. You can have the latest gizmos, whiz-bangers and ultimate software, but if communication doesn’t occur, it’s all a waste.
As my boss frequently points out, “it’s like talking to your wife: nothing’s ever communicated by osmosis.” Give it another couple of millennia, and maybe our species will evolve to a higher level of communication where, “Forget what I did or didn’t say, you know what I was thinking” will work. For now, that response doesn’t cut it with spouses or the architecture industry.
A similar point comes to mind when wrestling with the Third Rule of Customer Relationships:
First Law: The customer is always right.
Second Law: When the customer is wrong, see Rule 1.
Third Law: What do you do when the customer is wrong, punt? Lord knows, telling them they’re wrong isn’t the easiest thing to do. What if they ask for something that really is not in your company’s best interest?
My bet is most of us would try, to the best of our ability, to give the customer what they are asking for, within reason. But on occasion, a line is drawn that cannot be crossed when it goes against company standard operating procedure. In a case related to me by another project manager, the customer thought they knew the cause of a glass stain, but had made incorrect assumptions. Their claim was not even remotely possible.
Again, the key here is communicating the situation to the customer in what I can only describe as “the most polite manner possible.” Not that I’m the one to give lessons on this, but I’ve been fortunate to have worked for project managers or sales guys who are really good at doing this, and they’ve helped smooth the way through difficult situations. Take advantage of those resources; they are priceless.
So, too, are your suppliers, if they can lend credibility to the discussion regarding the matter in question. Don’t squander their technical expertise; they are most willing to help.
One past employer had the quintessential in-house communication form; they called it an “AVO” for Avoid Verbal Orders. You may have talked to everyone about a problem and the resolution, or given clear and concise verbal direction, BUT if it wasn’t put in writing, it never happened. Copies of the AVO went to all concerned/involved in the matter. It was great documentation; it never resulted in one of those, “he said/she said” conflicts.
Quoted in a previous blog is the classic line said by the warden in Paul Newman’s movie, Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here …” Our spouses will hopefully forgive an occasional “failure to communicate,” but it is an essential problem to avoid in the glazing/construction industry. Don’t let a lack of communication lead to disaster.