The Value of the Collaborative Community by Marc Petock

lynxspring_logoThe Value of the Collaborative Community, by Marc Petock, Vice President, Marketing, Lynxspring, Inc. Original article published in Automated Buildings’ December, 2013 edition, entitled, “Collaborating Convergence.”

Collaboration simply means “to work together with a shared vision and desired outcome for the future.”

Today, many innovations are being fueled by collaborative, connected community efforts. We see it most clearly in the Internet and web, where new capabilities are continuously developed by communities that build on the work of others, creating “mashups”, and new complimentary applications. We also see it in M2M and are beginning to see it to some degree in our very own industry. Collaborative community efforts are helping drive new ways to extend the value of our building systems and effecting change and innovation.

Collaboration is a powerful alternative to conventional processes and procedures for effecting change and driving technological innovation. Collaborative connected community efforts tend to be loosely structured, highly adaptive, and inherently creative. Collaboration aims for speed, efficiency and perverseness. By creating collaborative opportunities where community connections are made, ideas are cross-fertilized, and collective knowledge is developed and shared, collaboration generates rich opportunities for innovation. When the right people are brought together in constructive ways and with the appropriate information, they are able to create powerful visions and robust strategies for change.

Collaboration through Connection Communities appeals to people in a wide spectrum, not because it offers everything to everyone—but because it deals with a fundamental belief distinct from a program or agenda. Collaboration requires that we look not only at the outcomes of our efforts, whatever they happen to be, but also at the process by which we arrive at those outcomes.

So what is collaboration? We all have our own definition. In Barbara Gray’s book, Collaborating: Finding Common Ground for Multiparty Problems. Gray describes collaboration as “a process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible.”

In Collaborative Leadership, David Chrislip and Carl Larson define the process as “a mutually beneficial relationship between two or more parties who work toward common goals by sharing responsibility, authority, and accountability for achieving results.”

When you look at it, collaboration simply means “to work together with a shared vision and desired outcome for the future.”

Generally speaking, the collaboration process begins with an analysis of the situation and a diagnosis of the key issues involved. It moves on to a definition of the fundamental mission or desired outcome. The participants then articulate a common vision and work out a plan and a timetable for meeting their goals. In most cases, the process concludes with an assessment of the outcomes and a review of lessons learned.

KMC Controls Project-Haystack is a good example of a collaborative community coming together. Those of us connected to Project Haystack have come together around data and how to make sense of it. We are awash in data today, and most facility operational data has poor semantic modeling. The result is that any effort to use that data requires a manual, labor intensive processes to “map” the data before one can begin capturing the value from the data. To help address this need, the Project-Haystack community has come together and is collaborating around the use of naming conventions and why taxonomies can make it more cost effective to analyze, visualize, and derive value from our operational data. We are developing tagging conventions and taxonomies for building equipment and operational data and define standardized data models for sites, equipment, and points related to energy, HVAC, lighting, and other environmental systems to make it increasingly cost effective to instrument and collect data about the operations and energy usage of buildings.

Building collaborative communities means finding new and better ways to work together. We need to create spaces where people can find each other, share ideas, and discover common ground. We need settings where people can receive support and be acknowledged as public actors. And we need contexts in which people can begin to imagine and act from a new sense of possibility. Collaborative communities represent promising ways forward for driving innovation and change.

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