Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Revit Point of Views – Part 2 – Clarity of Vision

I know I’m not the only one that’s ever faced a challenge. From my current perspective, I really don’t have much to complain about. Life has been more than fair…I’ve got a great job, an awesome wife, three sons that I could not be prouder of. A professional career that has blessed me with more opportunity and rewards that I could ever possibly deserve. And yet my challenge is not small, but it can’t define me. We have some awesome friends and neighbors, that are pushing me not to let this consume my life, as there were times lately when I thought it would.

Things have been gradually improving, and I’ve had some conversations with other friends in the industry that are facing the same types of challenges, including one of my closest friends in the technical world that also one of the best role models and dads that I could ever hope to live up to. But it’s never the same when it’s you. That mortality that you never think about slaps you in the face, and you finally start to gain what you need…perspective.

Perspective is all about how YOU view things. It’s personal. It’s alignment. It’s yours alone to deal with.

After 36 years of being in this industry, it’s now about wrapping this part of life up and seeking completeness. About finishing what you start and reaching those goals. But if you give up too much of life for work, and not for taking care of the rest of life that surrounds you, then you lose it. Your perspective.

At first, when I started thinking about this class, it was originally supposed to be something simple. It was about how Revit changed my perspective, and how about the “views” were simply reflections of the model we define. It didn’t matter about your point of view, you were really always looking at the same time. So it was supposed to be about different ways to use the view to change your perception of your design, and to introduce new ways of looking at views in a Revit model to create a more complete view that understandable to those who consume it.

Sounds rich, doesn’t it?

February 24th was interesting and challenging day. I spend about 30 minutes at Novant Health hospital in Bolivia, NC. They had just installed the latest GE CT scanning device and was only one of two on the east coast at the time. A CT scan that normally took about 45 minutes to conduct only took 5 and was over before you knew it. And my warped mind at the time was thinking about AR and VR…and how cool my “reality” had become “augmented”. But I was more impressed with how quickly the technology has evolved, within my own lifetime. The ability for us to see inside walls from a design standpoint has always seemed like a dream, but here I was seeing inside myself and gaining a perspective that I had not seen before. And it all seemed so…casual.

I had my first meeting with a pulmonary doctor that explained what a lung nodule was, and how it impacts your health. The shape was good news, but the size was concerning, so the next step was PET Scan, which I had already scheduled for the same day. Same technology but now we’re making me glow in the dark like a uranium popsicle.

February 26th, we’re on our way to dinner when we get the call. Not malignant are the key words to hear. There’s still some work to do, but at least that specter of treatments I was preparing myself to face was going to have to wait another day. There was some celebrating to do, and Mr. P’s in Southport was the best place to do it. Thanks to an awesome waitress and staff, it was great day and date.

It was April and I wasn’t getting better. I finally got back to my favorite nurse practitioner (the real hero in my story, and one that I am indebted to), and started some treatments for pneumonia which has finally cleared everything up. Yesterday, I met with a new pulmonary doctor that laid out a clear plan for addressing all of the items I needed. She helped to restore my sense of direction and goals and gave me back some faith that I had lost.

And is faith that helps you get through times like this. I was raised in a Presbyterian church, where a key tenent is the belief of predestination. That everything happens for a reason, and we are placed here to be in services to others more than self. I’ve had to hand things back to God, and relinquish that control that I wanted to maintain, but never should have in the first place. Everything that has happened in this story is what should have taken place and has reminded me to be more aware of what others might be going through as well.

I mentioned in the last article that I was working with our leadership team to understand why we were getting held up in our digital transformation in some areas from a 2D to 3D environment. One of the tasks I have been working on is interviewing all of our facilities group’s production staff and helping them establish learning paths and goals to improve, refresh and refine their skills. The key element has been the one-on-one interview with each person in the team. I had written an article here last year about OWNing your training – where you have the opportunity and addressing both the want and need of a professional career and taking the personal responsibility we all have for our successes in life. It was a perfect time to put this concept into action.

The cool part? I’m getting to meet and know people on an individual basis. We are talking about their excitement and passion for what we do. We’re catching up on how their kids are doing…listening while they talk about taking care of a parent that’s not doing as well…hearing how they have wanted to take a different career path but never knew what was available…and how they have overcome adversity in their lives. The courses that they are taking are their own choices that they are buying into.

I’m actually making more friends, and it’s making our connection more personal. Are you willing to do this with your coworkers and colleagues? How much do you really know about them? Do you know their dreams, their hopes, their challenges?

And I realize that I am the one being schooled, and learning. Serving. Helping. And doing what I am supposed to be doing in this chance you get only once.

By now, the burning part about getting this class out of my head and on paper was reaching a new urgency. I didn’t want the story to fade without being out there so others could learn what I had learned. That perspective in design is a critical thing. So how do you achieve it? How does it alter what you do? And how do you help others find it?

That part is next. And you were a big part of it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Revit Point of Views – Part 1 - Perspective


Have you ever had that idea rolling around in your head…something that you needed to get off your chest, out of your system, and cleared from the deck?

Man, I’ve had this one for a while.

December 2019 had rolled into January of 2020. I had wrapped up a series about how we at Gannett Fleming were developing Revit content, and the standards and procedures our users should follow when creating Revit families that were to be used in a project. There’s a lot that goes into this…getting your parameters aligned with your schedules, making sure subcategories for solids are correctly defined to allow more control over what you see, and general best practices for what not to do.

I had also received notice in December of 2019 that I’d won my fourth AU top speaker award for labs, for “Charging Ahead with Revit 2020 MEP Engineering”. Little did I know that it could be the last time I would do a live presentation for Autodesk University…the jury is still out on this, but I can’t tell you how much I love doing these live presentations. It’s easy to feed off the energy in the room, where you have a group of like-minded people that all have the same perspective, to get better at what they do, and increase their passion for the craft that we engage it.

Mid-March rolls in and it has already been a rough start to the year. Watching our government turn into a bunch of spoiled two-year-olds fighting over who gets to be on the top of the hill, with an impeachment that was a true travesty and embarrassment for all of us. Sneaking around in the back of the room was story about a virus that was coming out of China, where I had made some good friends on the Autodesk development team that were helping is improve the electrical features of the program, didn’t really sit high on the radar…but all of the sudden, we were sending nearly 2600 employees home.

Amazingly enough, our fearless CIO, Kevin Switala, had already started having our team begin planning on improving our resiliency, playing out what if and worse case scenarios, including business continuity if we lost key staff to a virus that we thought we knew, but didn’t understand. But yet within a short period of time, we had addressed licensing issues, VPN connections, protocols for sharing files, improving communications with Teams…we were working it out.

June 19. I got a call on a Saturday morning…we were under a cyberattack. Some asshole (yea, I said it) decided to ignite an electronic bomb with extortion in mind. We weren’t the only victim, but at the same time, we were not as prepared as we wanted to be. No company ever wants to admit this happens to them, but in reality, there’s a lot of bad actors out there that want nothing more that to tear down what you build, to take, to steal, to ruin. It sucks that there are people out there like this.

And yet, we came together as a team and grew more as company and family over the next several months. As a liaison to one of our business groups, I had the unenviable role of being the bearer of both good and bad news and wore the target on my chest to take the heat for lost files, lost time, lost work. And yet our resiliency to rebound, to get the job done, to fight through all of it, and change a century-old business model around into something new at the same time…I’ve never seen anything like it. If anything, I got much closer to the people I call my colleagues, who were now like family.

By December we had pretty much completed our migration to cloud based systems such as BIM 360 (Collaboration? Collaboration Pro? Autodesk Docs? I’m still confused…). We had started turning things around, and I was able to get back to focusing on what I love about my job – teaching others.

We had been debating about starting all of our vertical design projects in Revit for the past few years, but with the change of guard on our collaboration tools, the push was coming much harder. We finally got our leadership team together to try and understand what the root causes were and why so many designers were having issue transitioning from 2D drafting to 3D modeling.

January, I started feeling a bit crappy. A cough developed that wouldn’t go away, probably the same bronchitis I get every year with my asthma and allergies. Maybe the stress from the previous year’s chaos was finally catching up with me.

Two rounds of antibiotics and I still felt like crap. Since I had not moved to a new doctor here in Supply, where we had bought a house on the coast and remodeled to spend our next twenty years in, and enjoy retirement, I found myself in a local clinic again, meeting the awesome nurse practitioner who I had started working with a few weeks before.

February 19.