According to change guru John Kotter, 70% of major change initiatives either don’t get started or fail. This is evidenced in our industry’s shift to BIM technology. The greatest risk to an organization adopting BIM is faulty expectations: that value from BIM comes from software, when it’s a product of organizational change. The key to ensuring your organization doesn’t fall victim to this is successfully navigating the J-Curve.
Adopting BIM takes time, energy, and resources, creating an unavoidable learning curve. The J-Curve is an illustration of the journey most organizations take when implementing BIM. Its purpose is to visually clarify and establish healthy expectations in the process of introducing BIM into your organization. As you see below, the J-Curve progresses through the following stages:
- Current Capability – Your organization’s pre-BIM capability
- Desired Capability – The ideals fostering your decision to invest in BIM. This is what you desire for your organization to be capable of in fully implementing BIM.
- Expected Path - The path most organizations, unfortunately, expect to take: to jump right to the desired capability with a quick software download and minimal training.
- Actual Curve - The downward slope of hard truth. The actual learning curve is often more difficult to adapt to than expected. Consequently, this can place unexpected stress on organizational resources.
- ANGL – With the proper strategy, there is an optimal learning curve that breaks through the extremes and leads to a successful BIM adoption.
In BIM adoption, the J-Curve is unavoidable. Whether we graph it or not, it inevitably exists. So, how does your organization avoid having to take the long hike up to desired capability? The first step is to evaluate the most critical and drastic stage: the distance between the EXPECTED path and the ACTUAL curve. We are currently looking at two market conditions that are widening this gap.
Bought a solution, got an organizational shift. This may feel like quite the heavy bargain, but it’s the unanticipated cause-and-effect relationship many companies experience when they purchase software as a solution to BIM adoption. In order to successfully integrate BIM, a change in the process and work flow employees were previously accustomed to is required. Believe it or not, software does not magically produce clear communication and preparation. When not anticipated, additional time, energy, and resources are required, potentially derailing the implementation’s success. Progressive change shouldn’t be such a burden. This is why we approach BIM adoption as both a crucial and beneficial lesson in Change Management.
Over-sell to justify the effort. Transitioning your team toward BIM is not a walk in the park. Most often, the team tasked with implementing BIM must sell the benefits of adopting BIM to leadership in order to justify the ROI. This is why all the attractive features of the technology take center stage of the sell, while the demanding changes get muted behind the curtains. If BIM was presented as a disruptive adoption placing additional stress on already maxed out resources, the initiative would most likely be rejected. However, the over-sell strategy results in unrealistic expectations, putting the success of BIM adoption at just as high of risk.
What to do about it
Organizations are already thin on resources and personnel. Without any strategy or planning, the J-Curve will swallow up an implementation effort. Although the J-Curve is unavoidable, we believe there is an effective middle ground to be claimed. We suggest four steps organizations can take in making the process more seamless.
- Set the vision
- Start with a plan
- Educate the organization
- Sustain momentum
When BIM adoption is approached as organizational change, not a software purchase, the J-Curve becomes much less of an intimidating roadblock. In the weeks to come we are going to explore each of these 4 steps in detail and give you a clear strategy for “Beating the J-Curve”.
How has your organization handled the J-Curve? Use the J-Curve graphic to present and prepare.
View the J-Curve animation.