About a year ago I found a program for building performance analysis, Ecotect, and its sister website/wiki devoted to training and learning. Complicated program, at least for my ignorant dumb ass, but the wiki is great. My favorite part? The organization of the training based on a series of Levels of Achievements.

Beginning with simple viewing and navigating the application at level 1 and going all the way up to being innovative in the use of the program (essentially untrainable), the Level of Achievements they’ve implemented covers a lot of ground and gives clear signs to know where you are and how to get to where you want to go.

So what if we applied that same thinking to training Revit? Here’s what I came up with:

Level 1 – View

Sufficient skill level for Partners and non-technical Project Managers.

At this level you should be able to move around and through the model in order to acquire and print the information you need without going through another person.

This level focuses on View Tab in the Design Bar.

Specific skills include being able to; navigate through the Project Browser, create additional views to show you what you want (including Visibility Graphics and View Properties settings), and print views and sheets.

Level 2 – Assist

What first time users, resistant AutoCAD geeks, SketchUp kings, interns and more than a few designers I know need to be capable of.

At level 2 you should be able to help others on the project modify existing model content and add annotations. New object creation should be limited to what is specifically “redlined” and previously discussed with Producers and/or Managers. You should also be able to create sheets and place views and have a an understanding of how to create basic schedules.

This level focuses on Drafting and Room and Area Tabs in the Design Bar.

Level 3 – Produce

This is where the majority of work is done and, as such, Project Architects and some Managers may need to be at this level.

At this point you should be creating and modifing projects with all required model components as well as know how to create basic families in either 3D or 2D and create and edit more complex Schedules.

Level 4 – Manage

Here, the power users, the Revit geeks, the computer savvy Project Architects and those highly skilled in AutoCAD making the transition may soon find themselves.

Skills at this level include; creating and managing Design Options and Phasing, creating and managing parametric families that are both 3D and 2D with appropriate levels of detail, understanding the differences between modeling for Design Intent and Construction and how to move from one to the other during the design process, as well as being able to create and edit interrelated Schedules and Schedule Keys.

Level 5 – Innovate

Who knows. How do you define or describe innovation? I think you’ll know it when you see it.

So the question I want to pose is how far down (or up if you prefer) this list do you think is far enough?

I haven’t thought about how this would apply to AutoCAD though I’m confident that, while the specifics would change, the underlying structure and rationalization would stay the same. Nearly everyone I’ve ever worked with is a Level 3 and there are always technical problems that those of us who are Level 4s (and occasionally 5s) have to spend an inordinate amount of time to correct and resolve.

That’s not good enough. Not by a long shot.

Perhaps it would help to explain if I pointed out that the steps between these levels is not geometric, it’s exponential. Each step up the ladder is at least twice as complicated, requires at least twice as much effort and at least twice as much commitment than the one before. Getting to that Level 4 or 5 is not easy. Most people give up when they’ve got enough knowledge and skills to get the job done – about Level 3.

Level 3 is mediocre, average. Level 3 is a “C”. Not good enough.

When we first started using AutoCAD, it was an asset. We used it intelligently where it made sense and only the geeks took control of the computer. Now AutoCAD is a liability. The senior staff who were trained and practiced in creating documents by hand are constantly amazed at how long it takes to get drawings created and modified compared with what it took them when they were responsible for making the drawings.

We have a chance to learn from our mistakes with AuotCAD and keep Revit from turning into a liability. The first step is having the right people, the Level 4 and 5s, working the program. We have to keep mediocrity out of the process. The 4s and 5s cannot spend half their time fixing mistakes based on ignorance. Let the 4s and 5s go as far and as fast as they’re able. Keep them in the design process and feed them what they need to make things happen in Revit.

Let the 3s and 4s focus on something else that will benefit the project, the company, the industry and themselves. Let them focus on their own 4s and 5s instead of settling for a 3.

Everyone can be remarkable. Nobody has to settle for mediocrity.

3 Responses to Medicority

  1. […] Medicority « Life’s too short to drink cheap wine. – Great post about user competence and associated levels for Revit. Would love to see a similar one for IES<VE>. Agree with most of the observations. Anyone involved in BIM at any level should read this one. […]

  2. As always Greg, very well thought out and provocative. Somehow it seems like we all agree on the substance of what you just stated, however we find it hard to articulate I guess. We’re faced with pretty much the same issues. We always talk about training sessions such as “Revit for PM’s”. I’m not happy with the terminology because there should be no one task that anyone on the team shouldn’t have the desire or passion to learn. To me, this really indicates that we’re trying to do the minimum possible (let’s just teach PMs to print…that should be enough, right?). Obviously the more you’re glued to the computer on a daily basis, the more you’ll learn about a software, but that means that others in the chain will always be stuck at some other level not because they want to, but because they’re forced to out of other’s mediocrity. They’ll be stuck in L3 or L4 because they’re fixing the stuff of L1 and L2 people. That’s wrong, but that’s how most firms work. I think it’ll take some L4 and L5 people to break off and start their own practice with a different philosophy in order to abolish the corporate cultural vernacular.

  3. L4 says:

    there’s a basic conflict between what peeps want vs what that costs. This conflict is core to the decision to use inhouse [w/ cost to hire super(wo|)man] vs “outhouse” [ 🙂 ] rendering service for schmanzy presentations.

    (similarly) for a while now, having the designer directly produce CDs (to eradicate the drafting/cad Level5 grunt) has been a longstanding designbiz goal. Note this conflicts w/ your “everyone should perform at their own level 4,5” ideal. What Level of design skill is sacrificed when all designers must have L4,5 drafting/cad (and rendering, sketchup, photoschlop, illustrator, advertising, etc) skills?

    I think improvement is still possible, because I’ve (I think accurately) blamed “autoCr@p” for most peeps being “forced” to settle for level3 (or level2). Happily, revit seems to be the “next step” (quantum leap, blahblah).

    But I wonder if autodesk isn’t already wrecking revit (acr@pping it) while simultaneously featuritising it.
    My vague rule-of-thumb impression is that software of the most sluggish categories must be completely rewritten/overthrown every 10-15 years.

    I wonder if acad would be already gone if someone other than autodesk had bought revit. 🙂

    Regarding the topic of L4’s, L5’s fixing lesser level work: Typically, what’s the employees per “cad manager” ratio? (some kind of management org must have surveyed this topic. )
    What’s the time% breakdown of L4,5’s fixit tasks?

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