June 2014

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The Value of the Collaborative Community

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

Marc Petock

Marc Petock
Vice President, Marketing
Lynxspring, Inc.

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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 pervasiveness. 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.

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.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] 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.

Note from the Author:

Below is an excellent example of collaboration at its best and what I referred to in this article I wrote.  It's also a great example of how Sir Richard is keeping to the brand of Virgin---creating and delivering a unique travel experience and taking flying to the next level…..making it an individual experience and not the cattle car experience we all experience when flying.


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

Feedback from LinkedIn Connection Communities Collaboration Group;

Marc, great article! I have believed for some time that Collaboration is part of a new paradigm for work. In the past, careers were company centric and networks were facilitated within those companies but often not in the broader industry. In fact those companies were often so paranoid about confidentiality and IP that they discouraged collaboration and networking outside the company. In part because careers are more mobile and in part due to a series of technology factors that have redefined work, this is no longer the case. I salute you for being a great example of someone who's ever widening circle of collaboration enriches the industry, not just one company!
By Jack McGowan, CEM


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