The overall aim of the Model Nova work package was to study technology-mediated activities, processes and business models based on BIM and an operating culture that provide added value across the whole value network of the built environment. The main research themes were (1) to-be BIM process, (2) lean and integrated practices, and (3) contract models. In the end, the major focus of the research shifted to the lean and integrated practices. This focus emerged from both, the specific practical needs of the participating companies and the research interests of the researchers. Model Nova broadened the perspective of BIM research strongly towards social sciences and cultural-historical activity theory.
From the numerous interesting results in Model Nova, the following three intertwined results tell a comprehensive story about the Model Nova research as a whole; (1) team co-location, (2) knotworking, and (3) visual metrics.
First of all, while researching the to-be BIM process, it became clear that a successful BIM utilization requires deeper collaboration and interaction between project participants in different project phases. One way to increase interaction is to bring all project participants to the same location to work for the project. In the United States for example, team co-location has successfully been used in complex hospital projects utilizing integrated project delivery (IPD). Following this lead, Model Nova researchers traveled to California to further study the advantages and disadvantages of team co-location from different stakeholder perspectives. According to the findings, full co-location enables faster and more accurate knowledge flow and problem solving through overhearing of conversations and intentional over-communication from overlapping meeting structure. It also greatly reduces latency in decision making and facilitates cross-disciplinary innovation due to the quick and easy access of the team when needed. As a downside, it is a distracting environment for any work that requires high concentration such as design work.
Second, while studying team co-location, we realized that full co-location is rarely feasible in Finland where projects are smaller and most project participants work on several projects at the same time. A lighter version but still tapping the benefits of full co-location needed to be found. We decided to taste our own medicine and co-located the Model Nova research team to a remote destination for three days. After intensive brainstorming we co-created a concept of knotworking which utilizes partial team co-location in specific project phases. Knots are well-planned and focused working sessions that enable the integration of dispersed expert knowledge and skills to optimize and coordinate design solutions through intensive collaboration. In Model Nova, knotworking was piloted in three real-life projects. Successful knotworking requires a process of determining specific tools and an action plan of a knot, planning of the individual and collective work procedures, and designing visual metrics for the comparison of alternative solutions for the client. A team leader is needed to facilitate the discussion and ensure the coherent outcomes of the knot.
Finally third, visualizing information and knowledge was also researched in Model Nova as knotworking requires simple visual metrics to enable fast decision making with participants from various backgrounds. In the knotworking pilot projects, various measurement and visualization methods were defined to support the design process to meet the set requirements. The findings indicate that the availability of up-to-date and visual information will create greater possibilities to see the whole scope of the project which leads to more efficient decision making. Easy visual comparison between alternative solutions helps focusing on the best possible solution to fulfill the needs of the end user and client. Multi KPI (key performance indicator) analysis with different visualization strategies was also studied. The idea is to analyze a radically larger set of alternatives from many different KPI perspectives in order to reach an optimal solution. Combining knotworking with visual metrics, multi KPI analysis and optimization can lead to breakthrough performance in BIM-based construction projects over the whole building life cycle.