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4specs Discussion Forum » Ralph W. Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT » Who/What? « Previous Next »

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Posted on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - 07:51 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT, Cincinnati, OH

The call came out of the blue! The caller, having seen my name on the speakers’ list [CSI] was asking if I could/would make a presentation to his group [structural engineers here in Cincy and simulcast to a similar group in Cleveland. Who? What?

He was just “getting into” specs, and wanted me to address 30 talking points, including how you write specifications! The program was to be one of the monthly programs the organization puts on.

Sure-- why not! Done! Good results and they asked for return engagements on more narrow ranged topics. But did you notice the convolution to get this done? You may argue that at least it got done; I argue it was too hard and “messy” just to make contact [the presentation was a snap!]

CSI, by definition, creates and distributes information regarding construction of the built-environment. Fine! Immediately two groups come to mind-- associated groups and professionals in other related disciplines, and students in schools teaching architecture, engineering and construction. Here are the "targets” for CSI, and where we should be making some effort to introduce and perpetuate the cause of specifications and ancillary work! Here is where some advertising would help, immensely; here is where we need one-on-ones; here is where we need to make our case and that for specifications. Here is we need to put a face on the topic, even if on our dime!

We know a lot that some members of these groups know little or nothing about, and yet they will be shoulder to shoulder to us soon. If we do nothing then the ignorance, the griping, and lack of understanding and the misuse will continue, for NO good reason. We have a very unique situation and product, but we can’t just whisper about these, or hide them under some cover. If they carry the status of Contract Documents, then by George, they need to be set out as such! And NOW! Their status, content and contribution are too important to lay fallow!

Oh yes, with the recent acquisition of BSD, more mystery and confusion is possible. How unbiased will all future documentation, information, and programs be [like we talk about the “CSI way” now?]? Do we dare wind up pushing one system as the do-all-cure-all, [much like the open flexibility in the CSI process now] so future spec writers will know no other system [tragic]. Perhaps a well-founded expansion of interest, but in one direction-- too unilateral.

What about the other direction[s]? The numerous, other ways in which CSI could extend an effort, enhance its stature and impact, and create a pattern of service and new resources to the construction industry. Sure, this is a basically a single effort containing many different tangents, but it has more meaning than simply providing another resource for members who already may be using the system, or using other systems with suitable successful.

Expanding existing services and providing new ones may be good, but somebody better peek out the front door and see what all is out there-- untouched by CSI-- which needs CSI expertise and information; and can be a made a mutual partner in directing CSI in that direction. Outreach is not just a community effort. It is also one where an individual organization expands its efforts to new ground and provides service[s] never before offered. There is glory in that [if needed] and certainly it can be an admirable program that “profits” both partners in many ways. We need to stop whining and open the front door to embrace the wannbees and know-nothings that can greatly benefit from our work, programs and collective minds-- and we from their new ideas, questioning, impressions, and efforts.

It is rather shameful for an expert, prestigious organization to force any one who knows about it to take a circuitous route and extra effort to simply find it. The life of CSI will continue and evolve and those who do that work MUST come to CSI early-on and know its work, programs and expertise, over the long term to be productive, creative and of greatest value. Novel idea? Maybe-- but essential to making the organization better than it has ever been!! Worth a chance! Why do we ignore, or are afraid to address, deal with and resolve the issue of specifications education prior to becoming a CSI member? Why don’t we even try to understand that lingering and most important question?

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