January 2015

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The Answer To Education And Training
Creating Your Collaboration

Ken Sinclair,

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Facilities Management

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“Creating your Collaboration” started with my puzzling with the process of how industry knowledge gets passed on. AHRExpo is the annual event where we present our free education sessions to the industry. This is our 16th year of presenting these sessions and hosting the third annual Connection Community Collaboratory meeting. Online Collaboration is how today's education occurs.

Education is not an affair of "telling and being told" but an active process; I am a poor presenter but a good connector of concepts and resources for the active process.  As a connector of concepts and resources I need to be questioned by those seeking knowledge to be of use. My value is not the knowledge that I can share, but the knowledge I can connect folks to so they can self-teach themselves their way. I am but a catalyst in the process of learning.

I am still struggling with the best way to transfer the industry dumps of information to incoming practitioners of our industry. We came to call this "The Dinosaur Dump" when we dropped 20 to 30 years of industry experience on some poor incoming practitioners who did not even ask one question…..smile.

Our Contributing Editor Therese Sullivan shares her wisdom here; learning via "Sage of the Stage" — a popular style that dates at least from Plato and Aristotle — may be over. What's a knowledge base, but a glorified FAQ. Collaboration platform is a synonym. That is how I see this: someplace where someone who wants to learn will go when the moment is right to find just that something that will fulfill the learning/collaborating need at hand.

I am arriving at the conclusion that everyone in our industry needs to develop their own interactive Ask questions, get them documented online for their purposes, and decide which and how to share them with the world using their own collaboration platforms.

Please read my review, "Dinosaur Dump Evolves to Ask Auto, Then to 'Creating your Collaboration,'” and share your comments with Ask Auto.

The collaboration platforms need not be complicated. If you are not concerned about death by email, it could be as simple as creating a common Ask email address for all to share thoughts and interact on searchable email. Of course several companies have in-house Wikipedia or other collaboration tools such as some lightweight platforms that pull knowledge base apps (Dropbox) together with messaging.

Developing Young Talent In The Controls Industry

I have pulled this insight from my young speaking partner at AHRExpo, Brad White, P.Eng, MASc, Principal, SES Consulting, Inc., from his article, "Knowledge Sharing to Drive Learning." He writes: "Only if you can hire good people, train them well, and ensure they continue to learn throughout their career will we see industry, from the operators to the engineers, achieve the potential we all know is there."

These words have been extracted from his article: “While technology solutions, like the ones I discuss above, are part of the answer to the education and training problem, it certainly can’t completely replace things like good old fashioned mentorship. I am fortunate to have been exposed to many fantastic industry mentors early in my career. One such experience was through my participation in the Young Energy program which sponsored my attendance to Connectivity Week, where I had the opportunity to be exposed to a whole world of new ideas and make valuable contacts in the industry that serve me well today. Young Energy still lives on today as a LinkedIn group. This year’s ControlTrends Awards will specifically recognize rising young talent in the building controls industry through their newly created “Young Guns Award,” which I will have the honor of presenting to a deserving recipient. It’s initiatives like these, their ability to connect industry newcomers to inspirational veterans and the recognition of rising talent that will be a big part of attracting and retaining top talent to our industry.

“It turns out that Google already knows this. A lot of the themes I talked about are echoed in that article. The main lessons I took away are to: hire the best people you can find (even if you are not sure what you'll do with them), hire people who cherish learning, and don't be afraid of unconventional planning processes since we also face a pretty dynamic industry. I think we do a pretty decent job at this already, but it's always nice to have confirmation that we're not way out in left field with our ideas, or at least we're in good company out there. Examples like these are good inspiration for how we can continue to push things and also a reminder of why these things are important if we're going to continue to be successful.”

From this interview with Ken Smyers, VP and Co-Owner of DMS Controls Group, LLC, more about the ControlTrends Awards and the process of identifying new blood for our industry:

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sinclair:  In addition to “The Young Guns” winners being announced and the ControlTrends Awards being given, what other events take place and what can the attendees expect?

Smyers:  We do our best to make the ControlTrends Awards as exciting and entertaining as possible.  The Prairie Ballroom is ideal and convenient venue for the ControlTrends Awards. The Hyatt Regency Prairie Ballroom is a short eight minute walk from the AHR Show floor inside the McCormick facility. The 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. time slot minimizes schedule conflicts with many of the other AHR and hospitality events.  Marc Petock will be our MC as usual.  We have a fast-moving, exciting, and entertaining agenda that promises to be a most memorable and enjoyable occasion for our industry.

Chicago is a fabulous city full of history and energy, which lends itself readily to this year’s (surprise) motif. Additionally, we’ll have the Hall of Fame inductees, the Petock Award, an update on the ControlTrends Museum, and something new — the Young Gun Awards.

We really appreciate all of the support that you have given us in getting the Young Guns Awards started. The Young Guns Award is in direct support of your efforts to “Grow the Industry Younger.” Thank you for helping us find the appropriate spokesperson for the 2014 ControlTrends Young Gun Awards, Brad White, with SES Consulting, who epitomizes the award, and serves as an outstanding role model, having found success in our HVAC industry at such an early age.


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