Letter from the President - June 2017

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I've been thinking about this ancient proverb, often attributed to Lao Tzu, quite a bit lately—especially with all the new product announcements that happen every spring. (And it’s not just Autodesk. Several of the engineering software products in use at my firm have had intermediate or major releases in the last couple of months.)

Of  course, upgrading software is only one kind of journey. There’s also launching a new initiative, tackling a design project, or even embarking on a new career. Different journeys, similar steps.

It’s not the planning behind the first step that’s on my mind, but the act of taking the step itself. If you have a big project to tackle, or a major initiative to launch, how do you decide when to begin?

There’s another saying that I can’t find a primary source for, but it’s something to the effect of “If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever.”

I’ve found that to be true. There’s never a perfect time to do anything. If you want to implement a new CAD standard, you’ll have to deal with projects that started before the change. If you’re ready to deploy a new version of Revit®, you can try to schedule it around times when people are away from their computers, but I guarantee that you’ll have at least one person who requires an exception. If you want to go back to school but think you’re too busy... when will you not be busy? Finding a truly optimal time to make a change is really unlikely. The best you can do is find something close to optimal, and go from there.

Deciding not to take action is a valid option, too. Maybe, after evaluation, the status quo is working just fine. If you go that route, though, you owe it to yourself to periodically revisit your decision. Check in now and then—is everything really still okay? Or is it time to make a change? (In that spirit, in case a few of my clients are reading this... those projects we have in Revit 2014? It just might be time for an upgrade!)

Starting a new journey (of whatever kind) requires a certain amount of courage. No matter how confident you are in your direction, you still probably take a few deep breaths before you  say, “Okay...I’m ready.”

I wasn’t going to talk about planning in this letter, but the more I think about “first steps,” the more I think about preparation. If you’ve done your homework, the idea of stepping into the “unknown” isn’t very scary—because it’s not really unknown. You’ve thought ahead, you’ve allowed for contingencies, and you’ll be ready if something goes wrong.

Which leads me into yet another quote: “Well begun is half-done.” This one is attributed to Aristotle... and, apparently, Mary Poppins. I’m not quite sure how she gets from there to “tidying up the nursery,” but how’s this for a modern translation: If you get off to a good start, you reduce the amount of work you have to do later. You could also look at it from the perspective of defining expectations. If you set clear goals at the beginning of your project (or journey), you’re halfway to defining the solutions as well.

Next month, I’ll have more to tell you about another thousand-mile journey—actually more like 10,000 miles! I’ll be writing to you about my experience at the BILT conference in Adelaide. I love attending conferences, not only for the practical advice I can pick up, but also for the connections I can make and the inspiration I can draw from listening to other people who are on journeys similar to mine.

Until next time, enjoy the journey!

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