CADDManager on January 22nd, 2014
This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Critical Conversations

We have discussed what might trigger a critical conversation and now we move to who might be involved.

When a CAD Manager uncovers a pattern of deviation that might impair the progress of a CAD project, they need to bring it up to someone.  There needs to be a conversation related to what they have found so that it can bee addressed and alleviated.  But who do you talk to?  Who is the best person to approach with the  information you discovered?

Here is a plan for who you might have a chat with:

The first place to go is to the person that you think is making the errors or may misunderstand the standards required.  by going to the person that is working on the file or model, you may make any corrections needed at the root of the problem.

If you do not have any idea who may have been involved in the errant processes, then go to the work team.  Talk to multiple people and you may uncover what might have happened and who may have been involved.  Talking to the team may allow them to adjust their work approach to manage the area of concern.  The point of these discussion is not to place blame, but to define a remedy.  Without placing blame, you may get the corrective efforts started.

If the corrective efforts cannot be initiated with a critical conversation with the person thought responsible or the team, then it may need to be escalated to the next level.  If it is a person who was identified as the source of the concern, then that would be the persons supervisor.  Most of the time this will not have to happen, especially with the persons supervisor.  Unless there is denial of the obvious facts or refusal to make amends, the person who is identified and agreed upon as making the problem, then that person will most likely assist in the correction of the problem.

If it was a team problem, then a meeting with the project manager may be in order.  This is what usually happens.  The PM is notified that there is a problem and corrective action is either taking place or is needed. The conversation with the PM is needed because they have bottom line responsibility with meeting the project deadlines.  Again – you are not looking to place blame on any individual.  You are focused on getting the project back in line and moving forward.



CADDManager on January 21st, 2014
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Critical Conversations

Last time we discussed why some detrimental items in CAD may go unnoticed, avoided, uncorrected and worst of all seen by the client.  We encouraged CAD Managers to have these critical conversations with those on the production team and higher.

Topics that Might Trigger Critical Conversation

You might ask, “What areas should you be looking at that might cause troubles and that might generate a critical conversation?”

Anything can trigger a conversation about CAD, but what might trigger the critical discussions that can keep a project moving and avoid troubled waters.  You should be having general conversations about CAD topics with everyone on your team.  Just the casual style chatter that surrounds CAD work… you know, things like “what layer are you using for this? When do you update the backgrounds? who needs to know about this change and approve it?”  These short talks can keep things moving and are not critical in nature until something does go wrong.

But there are some areas that keep you up at night.  The ones that you see happening again and again.  The ones that infect a project and destroy any standards that you may be trying to maintain. Here is my short list of things that should be watched.

Violations of the CAD Standard – this is a big area, but a few quick checks on a set of project files can turn up areas of concern. I have listed the essential areas to look at, but they always deserve a review.  Here they are again.

  1. Standard Folders – names, locations, relationships, contents
  2. Project Names – numbering, names
  3. File Names – correct and consistent
  4. Layer Names, Line styles, Pen Weights
  5. Pen Tables – CTB, STB
  6. Lettering Fonts and Sizes – fonts, style names
  7. Dimension Styles – exact names, consistent use
  8. Drafting Symbols – your basic symbology is always used
  9. Xref Usage – naming, content, attachment method
  10. Layout tabs – names, format, page setup

Beyond the CAD standard you might pay attention to:

  • Consistent Presentation
  • Detail Sheet Layout and presentation
  • Level of Detail that is used
  • Title Block text, abbreviations and wording
  • Graphic element locations (Key map, North Arrow, Graphic Scale)
  • Spelling
  • Logos
  • Dates and Names (like client names – I have seen them misspelled)
  • Title of the Submittal (Plan Check, Client Review)
  • Cross Reference numbers are correct
  • Legibility of the drawings
  • Nomenclature – callouts
  • Project Title Block presentation and layout

When you see problems in these areas that are a pattern and not just random errors, you may want to consider having a critical conversation with someone.  Again – this is when you see a pattern… Repeating, recurring, over and over, etc.

Next post… Who to Talk To

CADDManager on January 20th, 2014
This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Critical Conversations

When things happen in CAD that need to be addressed and discussed, there is always a good and a bad time to have the conversation surrounding the situation.  There are violations of CAD Standards, shoddy work, flawed processes, off track procedures and so much more that can derail a good CAD project.

How do you get these things back in line?  Who and when do you talk to people about it?  Does the PM need to know?  Can you insert yourself in the CAD flow and talk to those doing the design work?  Is what you are bringing up going to knock the project off its timeline?  Is it really that big a deal?

Over the next few post I will look at these and more items centered around when you might have what I call Critical Conversations about CAD.  As I do, I will suggest why, when and how and also provide a framework for words to use and escalation steps – when to take it to a higher level.

First let’s discuss why you should be having critical conversations about CAD.

  • It is your job as CAD or BIM Managers to stick your nose in.  Your world revolves around CAD process, quality and productivity.  These three can make or break a firms ability to convey a design to others who have to approve, price, and build what your team has conceived.  Here is a post from way back about sticking your nose in.
  • Members of the CAD production team may not want to discuss CAD issues.  They may be unwilling to have these kinds of conversations.  Items that can impact your firm negatively can be overlooked, missed, avoided, swept under the rug, passed on from one person to the  next, not corrected when uncovered or inadvertently left behind in files.  They may think that you are trying to point the finger of blame at them.
  • Leadership may not see them.  Not many program managers or project managers are hands on with CAD or BIM since they have larger roles to play.  This arms length association with the file and model production may allow unseen items to creep in to the work flow and product.
  • You do not want the client pointing them out.  If a problem file makes it to a client and they uncover the issue, this could have a major negative reflection on your firm.  They could be thinking, “If they cannot get the CAD files right, what else do they not have right?”  If the critical CAD conversations are happening between your client and your leadership, the impact will cascade down to you and the team.

So since other may not see the problems or be motivated to discuss them, I think it is incumbent upon the CAD or BIM Manager to speak up.

Next post…  What might trigger a critical conversation?



CADDManager on December 5th, 2013
This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series AU2013

Well AU2013 is in the books.

Started with a good class on what is new in AutoCAD for Mac.  Also discussed what is missing…  which is some very big items… No DWF Support. No Hardcoded XREF attachments (Relative Paths works). Dynamic Blocks needs help and some more.

Then on to Kate Morrical’s class on Digital Design Managers and how they are expanding the reach beyond the CAD/BIM tools and into so many other things, like IM tools, Sharepoint support, etc.  She is always refreshingly good as a speaker.  I learned about GoalPOSTing.  How to make a plan to get something done using the P O S T acronym.

Then it was off to lunch and my last class presentation.  A Roundtable actually.  It was a discussion on the possibility of creating a CAD Manager or BIM Manager Community to discuss just the job functions beyond the tools being used.  Process, Procedure, People.  We also discussed the need for some kind of certification process for the profession.

The closing Autodesk presentation included the Moon Express team with a moon landing module that might soon be sitting on the lunar surface.  Then Penn and Teller return to the stage for some magical entertainment.  After that it was on to the event closing party.  County band, good food, gaming, old school video games, dancing and a DJ.

See you next year  – at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (again) – start planning now

CADDManager on December 4th, 2013
This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series AU2013

Day Two started off early with my session delivery of CAD Management: The Best is Yet to Come – Career Planning. With a full room present, we discussed issues surrounding the planning needed to manage your career.

Some of the topics included: Knowing yourself, Knowing your opportunities and Knowing what you are Looking for. By thinking through these areas, you are setting yourself on track to success.

After that it was back to my room to upload the final presentation for those that attended. Then down for lunch. I ate lunch with a gentlemen from the Pacific Northwest – Civil Designer using Civil3D. He has many years of working as CAD Manager for his firm. Great conversation.

On to the exhibit hall and grabbing some snacks – AU branded M&M’s at the Autodesk booth.


Wandering around I was impressed with the volume of 3D Printers and services available.  They are doing some amazing stuff.

3d Printing

After a short break in mid-afternoon that I took, it was back to the pre-AUGI Meeting show of technology  that included the Glorious Gadgets presentation by Jim Balding and Wesley Binn (Think RTC).  The had demo videos of future technology that was pushing the envelope.  Ed Tallmadge of US CAD actually flew a quad copter around the room (like the ones the Amazon might use in the future).

The AUGI show presented the stats and facts of all the AUGI initiatives completed and in progress.  They are over 337,000 members now.

Then it was on to the AUGI Beer Bust.  The exhibit hall was packed again.  I ran into old friends (like Edward Lick, AEC Solutions Support Manager at STV, Inc.) and then actually won something.  I never win anything, but I won an iPad Air – provided by Synergis Technologies. You may know them for the Adept product line or maybe their Design Solutions.  Did I mention that I never win anything?  I just was in the right place at the right time I guess.   The picture almost makes it look like I am wearing their standard issue outfit… nope.  I will admit that I am a long time fan of the Synergis tools and services.


(photo courtesy of Kevin Mukbel)

What a way to end a great day.  Thanks Synergis!!!  (for more info contact Kristen at Synergis) This may look like a blatant plug and it is.  I am promoting tools that I think help you get the job done.  You should check them out.


CADDManager on December 3rd, 2013
This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series AU2013

The first day of AU2013 is in the books. What a great day it was…

I started the day by attending the class on Strategic Planning by Paul Kirill.  He presented a measure approach to developing a plan for those that may have never done it before.  He actually took us through an exercise where he developed the data, analyzed it and produced a fictitious plan along the way.  From start to finish with defined action items for a CAD/BIM Manager to work on that will increase the productivity, expand services and increase the bottom line.  Can’t get much better than that.

The opening Keynote session started off with Penn and Teller doing some magic and introductions.  Check out my Twitter steam for some pix and posts.  @caddmanager  The highlights were the unveiling of an Aston Martin and a robot arm articulating a disco ball.  fun stuff.

After that I did some final prep on my first class – Working with a Multigenerational Workforce.  The presentation went well and people interacted with the data provided.  65% of the jobs in the future (2035) do not even exist now. Generations are being defined as short than they used to be (~20 year span) now down to 6-7 years.  This is all due to technology changing so fast.

The Exhibit Hall opened in the evening and it was expansive and packed.  This is the largest show floor I have seen at an AU in a long time.  The energy was high and the hall was filled to the brim.  Attendance is up and would not doubt that they get really close or go past the 10,000 attendee level.


CADDManager on December 2nd, 2013
This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series AU2013

I arrived in Las Vegas early which allowed me to check in and register without much trouble at all.  The process was quick and efficient. I came early for the ADN Conference for developers.  I am not a developer, but took advantage of the free ADN membership that came with my AUGI Professional membership in 2013.  My great aspirations of developing the newest and coolest tool soon fell away to time constraints.

The ADN Conference (Autodesk Developers Network) was today from 8-4.  It was very informative and focused on providing developers the tools they need to create and expand the software extensions and add-ons that they have.  It started at 8:00 am and by 9:30 we were fully engulfed in “geek speak” for programmers laced with every acronym you can think of related to programming.  This crowd is hard to please and it was not until after lunch when finally a single person applauded one of the many announcements that Autodesk provided.  After that, many started providing applause at some of the simple yet profound fixes and hooks provided to the programming community.

As can be expected, I ran into many regulars and also introduced myself to a few new attendees.  If you see me in the hallways – stop me and shake my hand.  I would love to connect.

Tonight is the Blogger/Media Social and the ADN attendee reception.

Stay tuned for more daily info.  And follow me on Twitter @caddmanager and @bimmanager.  Follow everyone with the #AU2013 hashtag


CADDManager on August 13th, 2013
This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Leadership Dispositions

Comments on Expansion as a disposition…

Your Leadership style is driven by moving farther and climbing higher.  It may mean moving farther into an existing area of expertise or venturing into new territory.  You push toward more.  You are frustrated when people appear skittish to make progress.

Your Actions will tend toward taking a risk on unproven processes or projects. You do this because the payoff may be worth it.  Failure does not slow you down.  You learn from troubles and move past tough times, looking for the next area to improve.

The Positive is that you are very resilient.  You are a positive person and look forward to a challenge.  You open new doors and make things happen.  You are a marathon thinker who operates in the short term sprint.

The Negative may be that you are not a maintainer and if that is part of the job, you may have troubles.  Tedious work annoys you.  Keeping the lights on is not your sweet spot.  Find others that can manage what you see as mundane.  Think about the long term impact of adding more and more into your arena if there is not a well oiled machine behind you to keep it going.

Mixing in maintenance thoughts will temper this disposition.


CADDManager on August 12th, 2013
This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Leadership Dispositions

Coming to my final leadership disposition in this series (there are many more, but I limited it to these four), we now look at the mind frame of expansion.

Those that look through the eyes of Expansion tend to have these traits:

1. Look at every challenge as an opportunity.  Not that others do not, but they seem to be able to see opportunity in the midst of calamity.  They see past the current difficulty to the next step that might be enabled after the fix is in place.

2. Look at all areas of a situation.  They see every area of impact for the decisions they make.  That impact may be people, process, platform or product.  They see what impact change might have on each of these areas.

3. Look at reward first.  They do not ignore the cost of change or expanding, but they focus on the reward of moving in a particular direction.  Risk comes before reward and they are willing to take some risks.

4.  Look past the bend in the road.  They tend to look farther out than most and see what tomorrow might look like.  They desire to reach forward and grab opportunity as it peeks its head out.

If this sounds like you, then you may be predisposed to expansion in your leadership style.


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