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Conversations: People Will Talk - #SocialBIM Episode 6

ISN'T IT frustrating when others try to control who you talk to in construction? Or when they dictate where the conversations should happen and who should be ‘copied-in’? Here, Social Strategist Su Butcher explains how conversations and communication underpin collaborative working in a building information modelling (BIM) environment and what we can do to help them happen.

People have a natural fear that others will talk about them behind their back and we all have a desire on some level to know, control or steer what is being said.

“This can be a very dangerous” explains Su. “It can prevent us from delegating conversations to responsible people and trusting they’ll carry them out in the right way”.

As new ways of working have entered the industry – like BIM and social media – we have had a tendency to maintain traditional forms of communication and to try and control what is said. You might find BIM Execution Plans stipulating that ‘all communication should be by email’ and that specific people should be copied in, filling their inboxes. Many of us can relate to being swamped by emails; “I know a lot of people who never look at their inbox because they’re much too busy doing proper work” says Su.

"Most of our businesses depend on good communication. So why stifle it?"

Most construction companies have placed restrictions on social media use at work too. They don’t realise the benefits it can bring through efficiently finding information or other people with an area of expertise you might need advice on.

In reality, we need people to talk and most of our businesses depend on good communication. So why stifle it?

For whatever restrictions we may impose and however effective we may think they are, the fact is that we are all people, and people will talk. We need to accept that, then work to better enable those conversations. We need to help them become more effective whilst ensuring that we clearly record the outcomes. Here are some practical steps you can take:

1. Allow conversations to happen freely amongst your staff and project teams.        
2. Ensure that everyone is clear where the outcomes of those conversations are to be recorded, so that everyone who needs to be aware of them can be (this could be an enterprise social network like Slack or Yammer).       
3. Unblock social media platforms in your organisation whilst reminding your teams about your IT and/or internet usage policies.

If you’re worried about point 3, remember that most people already access these platforms at work through their smart phones. If a member of your team spent the whole day on Facebook through their phone and were not fulfilling their job criteria, you’d probably have a word with them. That doesn’t change if you unblock social media on desktop or organisation-owned devices.

Social media isn’t going away. Think instead about how you can make use of the technology and enable yourself and your employees to take a mature attitude to it.

Why not start a conversation about this very video? Get involved and share your thoughts on social media with #SocialBIM. You can also talk to Su directly @SuButcher or visit her at

This video is part of a wider series looking at how we can help people adopt collaborative working for BIM in small ways:

Episode 5 – Collaborative Working for BIM
Episode 7 – Mistakes: People Will Find Us Out        
Episode 8 – Sharing: People Will Use Our Stuff 

Make sure you’re subscribed to our free YouTube channel to be notified with each video release.

You can catch-up on all the previous episodes in our #SocialBIM series, including 1-4, in this playlist.

This video was kindly sponsored by 4Projects. Find out more about them here.

Filmed at Herman Miller National Design Centre, London.

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