The candy bar technique


Everyone agrees to the benefits of BIM and a key element of its success is to bring the models to the field in the hands of superintendents and foremen. Darren Roos [@darren_roos], corporate BIM/VDC director at Bernards, a Southern and Central California general contractor and construction management company, discussed this topic in an awesome interview with James Benham [@JamesMBenham], Josh Bone [@BIM2theBone] and Rob McKinney [@conappguru].

First the BIM Track crew must give a big shout-out to Darren and Josh for mentioning us during the interview. It’ a pleasure to be associated with reducing latency in the coordination process and being an game changer, an essential collaboration tool for coordination with the sub-trades, superintendents and foremen.

As great as it can be, it’s not why I wanted to write a blog article on this. I had to share a glimpse of all important elements mentioned in that episode of the @ConTechTrio. You can listen to the entire interview Episode 55 starting at [39:48] or read the rest of this article to get my favorite moments. It’s a great episode because of the great takeaways Darren gave the listeners, but his Star Wars candy bar technique for BIM adoption made it epic. Hang on, we’ll get to the candy bar technique soon.

First, the main topic of this episode was around getting the models out in the field and have the superintendents and foremen to leverage the use of BIM to reduce waste on site. Here are a couple of great takeaways Darren gave to bring more people in the BIM process from the field.

  1. Let your subs do it themselves: Don’t do things for people that can do it for themselves, don’t do your sub-trades models. If you let them do it, the result will be better scheduling, VDCmpowerment and trust.
  1. Don’t be the smartest person in the room: Because you’ve invested in a tool doesn’t mean it’s the best tool for everything. Share knowledge and compare your notes with each other. Work as a team. If someone did something better, check it out.
  1. Don’t wait for meetings before talking about items: You should have a process for identifying and address items at any time, and store it in a place where it’s trackable.
  1. Don’t have 4 hour meetings: If your meeting last more than an hour, you were not prepared enough and the participants might not come back, especially if they are superintendents and foremen. Organize the meeting by filtering the issues by priorities to talk only on things that are important.

You’re probably thinking, well I know, it’s common sense. Yes, it is, but the question is, why people don’t follow those 4 rules first hand?

Now that you have set in place those crucial rules, you’re wondering how do I get people to use the models. That’s when the candy bar technique comes in place. Darren faced this challenge about 10 years ago on a project. There were 25 field personnel on site for that project. A Plan room was set-up with a computer that had Navisworks on it. Darren did a training session to show the basic features. It was in the plan room and everyone was avoiding it. The idea came to him, it needs to be fun for them to use it. They’ll realize its power by using it. So here is what he did. He created a 3D R2D2 and hid it in the model, moving it around every day. If they find it and tell him one thing they learned while looking for R2D2, they won a candy bar. After a few days, people were lining up for the computer to find R2D2. Some even started using more advanced functionalities such as filtering or hiding elements. It was a great turn over and it proved that sometimes, the best ideas are the simplest ones.

One last thing I want to share from this interview is about the tips Darren gave on lean. “Lean thinking is about continuous improvement” and below are actions you should do to achieve a leaner approach to your projects:

  • Ask questions
  • Don’t be offended when you get criticism
  • Survey at the end of the project
  • Keep moving

We learned great simple ways to make better coordination and better projects during this interview. Thanks to Darren for sharing.

To book a BIM Track demo: Click here