How can MIT professor Alex Pentland’s book widen our understanding of BIM?
My top read for 2014 was Alex Pentland’s Social Physics. The MIT professor has pioneered ways of gathering “big data” on human interaction electronically and deriving its mathematical basis. This makes sociology more of a hard science with predictability enhanced. He is able to show, for example, that people follow their peer groups more than thinking for themselves, giving a new meaning to the term “common sense”. They also perform best creatively when their work group fosters learning across the team.
Social physics, the science of human interaction, sheds light on how people explore for ideas and how they then spread those ideas through their workgroup
Why is this relevant to BIM? BIM is about collaboration and social physics, the science of human interaction, sheds light on how people explore for ideas and how they then spread those ideas through their workgroup by social engagement. Managers will do well to learn from Social Physics how to enhance team performance. One big message is that teams that work together again and again outperform scratch teams.
Manufacturing industry has long used stable supply teams, creating competitive tension without tendering. Construction continues to believe that a scratch team formed through tendering will provide best value for clients. Social Physics says that construction must change to favour stable teams of consultants, constructors and product makers.
Best BIM performance should come from design-build teams with stable membership and developed collaborative cultures.
Richard Saxon CBE is a client and business adviser and author of Growth through BIM, published by the CIC