“Chicken Little” Has Left the Building

March 15, 2016

It has been one year and three months since I took on the task of understanding the technological shift that is underway in my chosen industry of some 45 years— Development, Design and Construction of Commercial and Industrial Buildings. As the Development Manager for the IMA Financial Center (North Wing) at Union Station (in Denver). I spent just over 7 years going through the typical development steps required on a five story, Class A office building, and for the most part, the skills required for the design were not profoundly different from those required on previous projects. We had a heightened sense of energy awareness, and we paid much more attention to sustainable design and construction. The construction sequence was typical and the trades required on site were also typical. We did get a “sneak peak” at the future with the Mechanical and Electrical systems, and I think those team members did a great job of keeping the team focused on emerging technology and construction practices.

In 2015, as we wrapped up the sale and post closing obligations of that project, it became very apparent that:

1- We had completed a multi- award winning project from the design, through the systems selections, to the energy use profile— in all of the technical areas of the project and there was much for the team to be proud of in the product. We also had completed a product for the investors that had good value in the market. As always- the result was a measure of a highly competent team and a dose of good luck


2- That any new project from that point forward would be very different in its design process and product; in its occupants and the manner in which they will work; in its interface to the automobile and other forms of transportation; in the way we would work with the City Planners and building department; in the process and procedures we would use in the construction; and how a buyer would value the finished product.

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“The Industries of the Future”

February 21, 2016

Good day to all.

I just finished reading a book by Alec Ross titled

The Industries of the Future

and I was struck by one paragraph in the conclusion section;  

Google’s Eric Schmidt reinforces the point about the importance of learning how to understand complex problems. When I asked Eric what skills he thought my kids would most need, he told me that “the biggest issue is simply the development of analytical skills. Most of the routine things people do will be done by computer, but people will manage the computers around them and the analytical skills will never go out of style.

The Table of Contents of the book gives good insight into many of the challenges and opportunities we have ahead of all of us.


HERE COME THE ROBOTS Welcome your new job takers and caregivers. The coming decade will see societies transform as humans learn to live alongside robots.

THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN MACHINE The last trillion-dollar industry was built on a code of 1s and 0s. The next will be built on our own genetic code.

THE CODE-IFICATION OF MONEY, MARKETS, AND TRUST Is there an algorithm for trust? New ways to exchange are forcing a rewrite of the compact between corporation, citizen, and government.

THE WEAPONIZATION OF CODE The world has left the Cold War behind only to enter into a Code War.

DATA: THE RAW MATERIAL OF THE INFORMATION AGE Land was the raw material of the agricultural age. Iron was the raw material of the industrial age. Data is the raw material of the information age.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF FUTURE MARKETS World leaders take notice: the 21st century is a terrible time to be a control freak.


Over the past year I have been working at the periphery of  the immense technological change that is underway. This book get’s to the urgency of the task for us all— and the immense opportunity that is ahead for us and our families,—-if we can tap in.

It is well worth the time to read, and a great primer of the complex time we all face. The Notes section at the end of the book double underlines the work ahead, and easily makes the price of the book a great investment in our collective future, where ever we live.  

I cannot imagine a more interesting time to be alive and charting a new path ahead.

Jim McGibney

Design, Engineering Education, Lean Construction, Technological change, Technology Driven Change, Uncategorized

“From here on in, it’s really, really going to change, and it’s going to change faster than we can handle.”

September 21, 2015

A request—As you read this Post, please understand I am drawing from a number of sources all noted in the text. To the degree that you find the information of use, please go to those sources as the authors have written in depth and their conclusions are more nuanced and complete then I can portray here. I can share that we are all fortunate to have the variety and number of very bright minds focused on this amazing topic at this amazing time!

The following headlines and articles are both exciting and unsettling:

“ A Report Suggests Nearly Half of US Jobs are Vulnerable to Computerization”— from an article in MIT Technology Review which relies on research at Oxford’s Martin School and MIT’s own analysis— and the rub is that the change will take place in the next 20 years.

“5 White-collar jobs robots already have taken”— an article in Fortune, earlier this year noting that Financial and Sports Reporters; Online Marketers; Anesthesiologists, Surgeons and Diagnosticians; E-Discovery Lawyers and Law Firm Associates; and Financial Analysts and Advisors; are all facing significant changes in the types and numbers of jobs that are available and the changes are not positive. One quote in this article was perhaps the most revealing;

“I don’t think we have a good handle on this”, said MIT Researcher Matt Beane (mattbeane.com). “The end game scenarios seem kind of severe. From here on in, it’s really, really going to change, and it’s going to change faster than we can handle.”

Continue Reading…

Business, hange, Property Development, Risk Management, Technology, Technology Driven Cahnge, Technology Driven Change, Trends

The Pervasive Impact of Technology

September 14, 2015

Approximately one year ago, I committed to taking three months to research the impact that technological change is/was having on the development/ design/ construction industries, because it is an industry I have worked in and enjoyed for over 40 years. The three months grew to six months, and with the review of two significant books, the time impact expanded to 9 months.

In the “About Gordian Views” in this blog I noted that I had seen first-hand the impact of 18- 22 percent inflation in the mid 1970’s when we had made significant changes in the way we did our work simply because there was no choice. If we delayed a project as little as one year, it became financially infeasible.

I also saw the impact that three significant recessions had on our industry—but I was always able to work and contribute through each. It wasn’t always easy, but there was always a pathway.

Today, as we are watch new technology breakthroughs introduce change into every industry, we are seeing jobs diminish or disappear. The increased productivity is a boon to the owners and users of the facilities we build and the productivity is good for those companies that are adapting. The negative impact is that this time, those jobs are not being replaced.
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Business, Lean Construction, Lean Design and Development, Risk Management, Technology, Trends

Driverless Car Revolution: Buy Mobility not Metal – a great read

May 10, 2015

At the end of last year, I was at a luncheon with two friends, and we were discussing the amazing period of technological change that we find ourselves going through. I discussed my plans to commence work on this website, and to focus on the change that we were encountering in the Development, Design, Construction environment. My premise at that time was very clear, and has not changed.

Rutt Bridges, who is a successful entrepreneur in the oil and gas industry was in the conversation and expressed his very strong sense that the Driverless Car, which is the subject of a great deal of research and development investment by Google, is probably the technological leap that will have the most profound impact on our Society—and certainly our World. His focus has been on that specific topic and, in fact, the title of this Post is the title of Rutt’s new book. He completed that work and it went live on Amazon as an e-book on May 10th.

Over the past months, I have had the great privilege of reading the drafts and commenting—first with chapters- then the completed book. I am impressed with the research Rutt completed, and I learned a great deal about on-line research and how to incorporate the results into a readable document. I also paid attention to how many times revisions were required to the book driven by the very speed with which the technology was changing – the topic of these Posts. Continue Reading…

Business, Construction, Design, Engineering Education, Lean Construction, Lean Design and Development, Risk Management

So You want to be an Engineer?

March 26, 2015

James (Jim) McGibney

I am an Engineer. I graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering and then received a combined Master’s Degree in Industrial Management and Business Administration. My education and career have been a gift. They have allowed me to work around the globe on fascinating projects with many people much smarter than I am. I have had a ringside seat to enormous change within this industry—and pervasively across our world. While many careers provide the opportunity to gain great material wealth, that has never been a priority. The wealth I sought and received was the wealth of learning every day—which continues even now- and the wealth of being a part of projects and teams that have accomplished simply amazing things- things I could never do alone. And– I worked with people that were scary-smart, and graciously generous with their time and intellect.

The basic Engineering Education I went through was not easy, was not intuitive and, frankly, was un-interesting except as a way to gain a degree. That is unnecessarily critical as it was very much the norm for Engineering Universities in those years.

The advanced work at the Master’s level was different. By then I was traveling extensively and my instructors at the University of Houston—to a person—provided 3 plus weeks of advanced assignments and allowed me to literally mail-in my work. Actually DHL as the mail took months. Those two years were the first time that I had found the “joy of learning” and set the pace for my being continually curious as I took on new roles and new levels of responsibility. Continue Reading…

Business, Construction, Design, Lean Construction, Lean Design and Development, Risk Management, Six Sigma, Technology, Trends

Applying Lean Manufacturing Principles to Development, Design and Construction- Part 2 of 2

March 26, 2015

Phil Macey-National Director Collaborative Project Delivery, JE Dunn

James (Jim) McGibney-Development Services Consulting and Support
Commercial and Industrial Facilities


We would like to extend our thanks to Rebecca Bettler, National Director of Lean Construction, J.E. Dunn, for her help in writing this Post, part 2, and for the many extended conversations discussing the growing impact of Lean Construction practices on our industry. Rebecca is the Chair of the Education Committee of the Lean Construction Institute and recognized as an industry expert.


In the first post on this topic, we provided an introduction to Lean Manufacturing, its origins in the 1960’s at Toyota Motor Company, and some of the basic principles. At the end of that post, we presented a definition of Lean Delivery in the design and construction of buildings as follows:

“ The continuous process of eliminating (all) waste, defining and meeting (all) customer requirements; understanding and focusing on the (entire) value stream; and pursuing perfection in the execution of the project—from initial definition of the scope through move-in, occupancy and day-to-day operation .”

Toyota’s early definition was a bit more basic in that it defined Lean Manufacturing as having a focus on: 1-Reducing Lead times, 2-Eliminating non-value adding activities, and 3-Reducing variability.

The purpose of Part 2 is to take a much deeper look at the design and construction industries and propose steps that every project team can take that will introduce the Lean process of thinking into every part of the project delivery process. That is a tall order given the complexity of the topic, even taller when you consider the significant number of competing technologies being introduced into design and construction.
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Construction, Design, Lean Construction, Lean Design and Development, Property Development, Six Sigma, Technology, Trends

Applying Lean Manufacturing Principles to Development, Design and Construction- Post 1 of 2

March 11, 2015

James (Jim) McGibney-Development Services Consulting and Support
Commercial and Industrial Facilities
Phil Macey-National Director Collaborative Project Delivery, JE Dunn

The Beginning

“ I knew we were in trouble when the order arrived” a friend shared with me, while we were talking about Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota manufacturing processes being used by a wide range of Japanese businesses. David was in charge of a television manufacturer for a large US conglomerate, and had just received his first order of picture tubes from a Japanese Manufacturer. This was in the mid 1980’s and he had gone through a very intense negotiation for that order. The Japanese provider had questioned every term in the contract, and was particularly puzzled about the term Acceptable Quality Limit or AQL. (see http://qualityinspection.org/what-is-the-aql/). David took the time to explain, in detail, that AQL was a methodology of testing products during manufacturing that would allow you to arrive at a statistical measure of the percentage of defects you would accept in a large manufacturing run. In that instance the AQL was 1.5%. Continue Reading…

Business, Construction, Design, Property Development, Risk Management, Technology, Trends

What Are the Next Steps to Consider?

February 16, 2015

by James (Jim) McGibney, Development Services Consulting and Support


Four months ago as I started the Gordian Views Posts, I outlined a program of work that might include as many as 18 to 20 Posts, and all of them focused on the extraordinary changes underway in the Development Business. Whether you are a Developer or Owner, an Architect or Engineer, a General Contractor or Subcontractor, or a Financier, these changes are affecting your business and will have a continuing impact for many years to come. These changes have a common driver, which is the technological change that is impacting all parts of our lives and our work.

The concern noted four months ago is becoming more real — jobs are being lost to automation, robotics, innovations, etc. and those jobs are not being replaced. That is impacting the professions that support us as well. Attorneys are finding their business being changed by smart computer programs; arbitrators are replacing case law with privately agreed decisions; prefabricators are replacing a wide range of on-site trades; tenants are undergoing a significant change in the type of work space they need for their workforce; in short, there is no area of the Development Profession that is not undergoing profound change and it’s highly likely that the pace of change will accelerate into the foreseeable future.

So what does that mean for you as a professional and what should you be doing now? Continue Reading…

Business, Construction, Design, Property Development, Risk Management, Technology, Trends

The Value Proposition of Money In the Development of Capital Assets- Post 2

February 15, 2015

James (Jim) McGibney-Development Services Consulting and Support
Commercial and Industrial Facilities
Phil Macey-National Director Collaborative Project Delivery, JE Dunn


In the first Post regarding the Value Proposition of Money, the majority of the Post was devoted to the basics and nuances of financing a project. That post dealt with the requirements that are typically raised by the financing institutions and ownership and much of the post was dedicated to defining the areas of financial focus required to successfully fund a project, now, and in the near future as technology driven changes speed up.

As noted in the first Post, all money does not have the same value. In fact, your view of money may very well depend on your role in the project.

For this Post we define four major roles on a typical project which include: the owner; the design team; the builder or general contractor; and the financing entity. The specific roles of each of the players are different on each project and sometimes the developer can also be the owner; sometimes the construction contract is Design/Build, so the General Contractor can play the role of both Designer and Contractor; and sometimes the financing entity might be a specific real estate fund, so they might play the role of owner and financier. For now, we will focus on the four more typical roles.

There is also a corollary that for each of the four key team members money has a distinctly different value. That fact is not widely appreciated and can lead to considerable contention throughout the lifecycle of a building project. What makes the subject of money complex are the multiple ways money is used and discussed by each of the key players. In our experience it is the lack of a shared perspective of the values of money that can undermine even the best of intentions. Here is our short-list of the primary modes that money takes on in a capital project.
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