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I really want to encourage everyone, from entry level to the senior level, to read this next post. Steve Stafford is the creator of the website www.revitoped.com, he is the author of four chapters of "Introducing Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012" (list below), and he is a Revit trainer and consultant.
Chapter 5 - Visibility Controls
Chapter 6 - Introduction to Families
Chapter 8 - Groups
Chapter 17 - Creating Families
Don't take what Steve says lightly, he preaches the fundamentals, and whether you are a student of Legendary Basketball coach John Wooden or Cheif Gorden Ramsey, the fundamentals are what matter.
Here is preview of whats to come, Steve discusses:
Since I conducted this interview though email, after Steve's responses I will interject some of my own in red.
For a fresh perspective, not necessary new, but re-refreshing... read below.
1) Steve it seems like you have had a lot of experiences working with different firms and people, could you tell us one story that amuses you about teaching Revit?
I worked with a company many years ago that started using Revit pretty early on too. They had completed two residential towers that they used Revit for but they still felt like they weren't confident with Revit. They were very hard on themselves. I tried to encourage them to take at least some credit for success. Considering there were many firms back then just trying to decide if they should use Revit at all they had two large buildings that were finished already, real "live" buildings! When I first met them this same firm had very different impressions of Revit depending on who you talked to. One "side" thought Revit was no good for CD's,(Construction Documents) but great for SD (Schematic Design) and the other "side" thought it was great for CD's but not SD. I remember vividly being shocked at their polar opposite sense of Revit's strengths, all in the same building.
2) When you go into a firm to each them Revit what is your approach, and what would you tell firms to expect?
When I first got into consulting I thought "my way" was clear, that I knew what "everybody" needed to do. If they just do this and that then they'll do great! Well I realized pretty quickly that every firm is as unique as the people that work there. Their leadership, the people that create, the people that manage day to day affairs. They may all "do" architecture or engineering but somehow they all really feel different, at least to me. The kind of work they focus on and how they go about creating their work for their clients is always different, even if only in subtle ways.
That means I don't go in preaching things, I try to listen to what they are doing, what they are about. I certainly have my opinions and I'm not afraid to share them with them, but they managed to make a mark in their profession without me, so I need to see how I can be an asset to them. If it is just some form of training it's a bit simpler, I try to pass on as much knowledge as I can in the time we have together.
I try to push them to re-examine their assumptions and encourage them to believe they can be successful if they express doubt. If I can... they certainly can.
If I'm there for higher level discussions regarding the business strategy then it a different conversation, less tangible perhaps, more thought provoking. Since I'm not running a business like theirs they don't expect me to tell them how to do things day to day, but I do see a lot of businesses very much like theirs and I see how they succeed and fail in many big and little ways. For example, how inward looking is the firm, do they really evaluate themselves fairly, well...at all? Do they communicate what the firm is about to everyone well, instill a positive culture? Who do they consider admirable peers, what work do they aspire to? What are their motivations? Are they supporting their staff well? Do they avoid telling staff they are for BIM but quietly tell them with their actions that they aren't sure? Do they lose staff as soon as they reach certain plateaus? I could go on and on...
Steve you hit running a firm on the head. Often it is those big questions that firms fail to answer that can tear them apart or make them great.
3) What are some common mistakes you see in Revit and what are your solutions?
People are always under pressure to get "this done" so they can get to the "next thing". This means that they usually only learn enough to get "this done" now, without leaving an opportunity to figure out how to do it better or faster. Worse they just repeat what worked last time, next time. The old adage is really true; "You need to take time to sharpen the saw".
One of the best things a firm gets from a consultant is a fresh perspective. Funny enough fresh doesn't necessarily mean "new". If you consider that for the most part the people inside their walls know each other already and all think they know what each other knows too, they know what to expect if they ask someone a question. Introduce me as a consultant...many times I've gone into an office and said many of the exact things their in-house Revit person has been preaching. I get more respect because I'm not "him/her"...they don't know me yet so I'm mysterious. What it really means is that because they don't know me they are much more likely to be receptive to me, at least for a little while. That's completely unfair to this in-house person but it is essentially how we behave, human nature so to speak. Taking time to examine what we do and "sharpening the saw" is critical.
4) In Revit, normally there is a "proper" way to model, and a "cheat" quick way to model. What "cheats" do you see people do which normally in the end take longer than the "proper" ways?
"I only need the furniture to be 2D". "I don't need to store those results for later". "That's not my problem, that's his problem." He used SketchUp because it's faster for him but I ended up modelling everything over again. I just used floors for countertops so we missed all the counters in our estimate. I used in-place modelling for the entire foundation and now only one person can work on it.
"Cheats" are inherently selfish, we disregard the impact our choices have on others. This business is meant to be far more collaborative, we have to start thinking beyond ourselves.
That is refreshing Steve, I hope people take that to heart. Sometimes the right way is hard, and less and less people do it. You can stand out in your profession just by being professional, and when you think about it that's not too hard, it is actually simple.
5) What is your favorite thing to do in Revit, what gets you really excited about Revit?
I really enjoy seeing people becoming confident with Revit. It is a "proud professor" moment. I now realize how teachers feel when their students come by for a visit later on in life (well at least some of those students). Getting to see buildings in various cities that I helped past students with is very cool! I remember walking through Sacramento once and thinking, "Why does that building look so familiar? Slowly realizing, HEY I know that building!!"
I find when you design or work on a building in Revit, when you see the building in real life it is like you have x-ray vision. You can see the guts of the building, its interior walls, floors, structure and HVAC system just buy looking at it. If you were involved in the project from the beginning, it is like you can see into the projects past also. It is a very cool feeling.
6) What is the most common question you get from clients and what is the most likely solution?
"Should I use Revit?" Why yes, of course! :)
Actually the most common question is, "What is your schedule like next month?" Hopefully my answer is, "Busy but not too busy to work with you again!" Haha As for common Revit question? It wanders around a bit. Sometimes there is a worksharing convergence in the "force", other times its about creating families... there really isn't one question that every client asks without fail, well...other than about my schedule.
7) What is a Revit trick, shortcut, or way of doing something would you wish someone would have told you long ago?
I may be getting old but I haven't been shocked or surprised with a tip in a long time. Let's see... if I go back to a eureka moment years ago... I remember when Matt Jezyk shared a tip for family editors, If you want to apply a value to many types at once, add it to the formula field, click Apply, then delete the value from the formula field, the value "sticks" for all the types in the family. I had written a blog post complaining about working families and Matt shared that pearl afterward. It made my immediate situation better for awhile!
8) If you were passing by a student in a hallway and you could only impart 30 seconds of personal Revit wisdom on them, what would you say?
Model it like you build it! Stay curious! Always find a challenging problem to solve, especially ones that mean you have to learn something else to solve it. That's what forums like AUGI and RevitForum.org and others are great for, they are like a "testing laboratory". People ask all kinds of questions there. If you are able to answer even a small percentage of them you are growing.
Keep in mind I'm not saying that they need to answer them all in the forums...just able to. :)
"Model like you build it!" is exactly what we say here in our "What is Revit Guide" It is one of the best pieces of advice that I give, and please click on the link above to read more.
9) Is there any plugin that you would say every Revit user should be aware of and use? If so can you give us a quick review of it and why it is so important?
Anybody working in teams ought to have Worksharing Monitor at their disposal. It is a little quirky perhaps but the fact that we can see who is actively in the project as well as syncing or reloading at any time is invaluable. My personal favorite is the little sneaky history button, very informative info. My second pick is the Space Naming Utility for MEP users, unreasonable to work without it. Nearly all the other apps out there are very personal, idiosyncratic in that they cater to very specific user types. The API is the next frontier however, there are so many solvable problems that Autodesk may never get to that a person that is savvy with programming and Revit API can deal with...NOW.
10) Is there anything else you would like to add that we didn't cover?
No... just "Stay coordinated my friends" (said in the voice of the Most Interesting man in the world)
Thanks again for reading! We are continuing striving to bring you up to date relevant Revit information. If you liked this post please share it, and remember to have fun!