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.


CADDManager on August 8th, 2013
This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Leadership Dispositions

Structure driven leaders…

Your Leadership is driven by specific defined processes and procedures.  Org charts are your friend. You look for order in the chaos.  You bristle at randomness.  Your heart rate goes up when things are done “on the fly”.

Your Actions will tend toward written processes and documented work flow.  You create policy and procedure.  You define how things are done.  You write manuals and guidelines for others.  You are tied to writing things down once so that many can reap the benefits.

Your First Thoughts are to look for documentation.  When a problem arises, you look to see if the proper steps were followed.  When a new feature is to be used, you write down how it is to be used.  When the organization is realigned, you want to see the org chart.  Who reports to who?  Who does what?

The Positive is that you will remind people that we already have a process for that and that if it was followed, we would not be in this problem.  When things go wrong you can quickly define the breaking point as you review the procedure that was used.  When others have gotten off track you can quickly restore things by referring to the manual.

The Negative is that people will be annoyed by your perceived strict adherence to the rules.  You will be seen as stifling creativity.  No one want to work with a person who beats them over the head with the rules.

Blending the creative side of leadership will help balance this disposition.

CADDManager on August 7th, 2013
This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Leadership Dispositions

I am changing the flow of these posts in mid stream – sorry.  I realized that I wanted to define the disposition prior to seeing how it plays out in your leadership style.  So with that in mind, here is the next one.

Those that are disposed to a Structure oriented leadership will display the following attributes:

1.  Look to improve structure – define the organizational setup and workflow.  They are in tune with how the org chart sets up proper decision making trees and how the undocumented org chart (the one that really defines who decides what) impacts the day in and day out choices that are made.  Process and Procedure are their playground.

2. Look to create structure – if one is missing.  They desire to have something defined as to who does what and where the decision points are.  They seek to lay out the flow of work and how processes are managed.  They need to know who “owns” a certain function or initiative.

3. Look to stay within the defined structure.  If there is a process or procedure, they will follow it – or change it.  They want to know how things are reviewed, defined and implemented so they can work within the guidelines.  They color inside the lines.

4. Look to make sure that the right people were involved.  Most of time someone complains about a final decision, it is because they were not informed, advised or asked for input.  The outcome is really fine, but they were not included.  Structure oriented leaders will make sure the right people were involved.

5.  Look to make sure any revisions to procedure are locked in and become best practices.  Once something is set in place, they desire it to be set in concrete.  Not so much that they will never change, but that people follow the new guidelines.

If you see yourself in the above – you may have a disposition toward Structure.

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