CAD Manager's Newsletter (#446)

27 May, 2020 By: Robert Green

CAD Management Vision: From Good to Great, Part 1

Whether your workplace is tolerant of errors or trained on excellence, Jim Collins's book has helpful advice for all CAD managers who are seeking greatness.

In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we continued our discussion of CAD standards in the age of CAD Management 3.0 by refocusing our efforts on standardizing workflows that lead to faster work outcomes. As we consider how to make our companies work better, perhaps it is time to take a break to consider how CAD managers should view the larger context of not just CAD tools, but their CAD-using companies as a whole.

In this edition, I'll do something I rarely do — recommend a business book — and give you some action items based on the lessons gleaned from it. Here goes.

Recommended Reading

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't

The book in question is Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't by Jim Collins. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Even though it isn't a technologist's book per se, there is so much valuable insight into managing an organization that I've found it very compelling over the years. I've found CAD management fits very nicely into how Mr. Collins approaches management, and I hope you find it as valuable as I have. I'd like to acknowledge the contribution Mr. Collins has made to this newsletter.

Where Are You Now?

Does your company run well now? Is it broken? Are some areas broken while others are OK? The reality is that no two companies are alike, but they are all somewhere on the spectrum somewhere between broken and great. And since everyone should want their company to be great, getting there is simply a matter of first mapping out your strategy to reach that goal, then working your way along that path. Or, as the old NASA adage puts it: Plan the work and work the plan.

In my experience, there aren't that many companies that are broken these days; they'd already be out of business if they were. Rather, the company personas I tend to see are as follows:

•  The "Just Get it Done" company
•  The "Getting Good" company
•  The "Becoming Great" company

If you can assess your company persona, then you'll be able to start moving toward being a great company. So let's ask some diagnostic questions and figure out which persona best fits your company.

The "Just Get it Done" Company

This is the logical step before things start to get good. The traditional warning signs include:

•  Errors are tolerated
•  Rework happens often
•  Economic consequences are overlooked
•  Everything is justified in the name of finishing projects.

I see these mindsets most often in project manager–driven companies where there is no real culture of standardization, and therefore no "right way" to do anything. Everything comes down to a mad rush to complete the project, no matter how inefficient. Your company may exhibit some of these characteristics even if it's well managed otherwise.

This culture is the opposite of great, because it makes excuses for being inefficient! Here are some strategies for getting away from this culture so you can move toward greatness:

•  Alert management to rework costs, errors, and waste
•  Make your alerts CAD-specific by talking about wrong file versions, plotting problems, or other production snafus
•  Quantify the cost of snafus in terms of employee hours wasted
•  Help management see that "just getting it done" costs money rather than saving it
•  Focus on eliminating needless unforced errors.

 Read more »

Tools and Resources

Sessions from NVIDIA's GTC Digital Available for On-Demand Viewing
The annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC) that NVIDIA usually hosts as an in-person event was replaced this year with the online-only GTC Digital, and most sessions are available free to all registrants. The lineup includes presentations, podcasts, demos, posters, instructor-led sessions, keynotes, and more.


What's New at

While Revitalizing a Roadway, Foth Team Honed Collaboration Processes That Ease Remote Work
During the University Avenue project in Iowa, the Foth team learned lessons about sharing 3D models and engineering data that are now helping employees stay productive during the pandemic. Read more »

Pandemic Spotlights 3D Printing's Potential to Change Product Development Status Quo, Stratasys Says
The launch of the full-color, office-oriented J55 3D printer comes at a moment of exceptional supply chain disruption, which increases the appeal of in-house part and prototype creation. Read more »

Sponsored: The Importance of Interoperability in Structural Engineering
If data types and software products are not interoperable, software tools and engineering data become part of the problem instead of the solution. Read more »

CAD Manager Column: Step Up Standards to Fend Off File-Management Disasters
In the age of CAD Management 3.0, are you struggling with a patchwork of legacy and modern file-management systems? Start improving your situation by considering your company environment. Read more »

Latest Revamp of Revit Adds Generative Design Capabilities
Autodesk has announced the new Generative Design in Revit feature, which can create design alternatives based on user-defined goals and constraints. Read more »


About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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