Category Archives: News, Tools, and Software

iLiv Founder Opens Show for David Suzuki

Tensegrity Sound Source #5 Played by Andrew Culver
Tensegrity Sound Source #5
Played by Andrew Culver

I’ve been putting-off writing my first blog post for a while now because I have been learning so much about this industry that it seems like with every day that passes, yesterday’s news has become just that. But now, it’s finally time to introduce myself – I’m Karen Tucker. I wear a lot of hats at iLiv, but most of my time is spent “product managing”. I spend time asking a ton of questions to users and potential users of our software, and I translate what I’ve learned to our programmers and to our sales/marketing team. As they say in the business books, I’m the “customer in the room” — I represent you. And this morning, you’ve got your happy pants on because it’s just been confirmed that iLiv’s very own Andrew Culver will be performing at this year’s Living Future unConference. Yay!

And here’s why we’re so excited about that:

I met Andrew Culver in April of 2009 because a friend, who had been raving about his music and telling me I would love it, invited me along to a show. That night, Andrew was performing with electro-acoustic music design and performance group, Sonde, at the Sala Rossa on St-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal. It was the second time that I had the opportunity to see the group, but my first time meeting Andrew.

Sonde had learned from Composer Mario Bertoncini that in order to make original music or “sound”, they would have to create new sound sources. And that’s just what they did. And it was beautiful.

It was obvious that Andrew had also been hugely influenced by the music of John Cage and the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, and I found out that he had actually worked as John Cage’s full time assistant for 11 years, collaborating with him on all aspects of composition, including the design of a computer program that would be responsible for all of Cage’s Chance Operations thereafter. Andrew had also exchanged letters with Buckminster Fuller, and in 1983, he received a personal invitation from Fuller himself to perform his Tensegrity Sound Source #5 – one of a series of 9 sound sources designed along Buckian lines – at his event, Integrity Day. Ironically (because of the course Andrew’s life would take twenty years later), then-journalist, now-environmentalist, Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org), covered Integrity Day in The New Yorker, favourably mentioning Andrew’s performance.

Needless to say, I was impressed – I even married him in 2011. But there’s a lot between 2009 and now that led to Andrew’s upcoming performance of the same sound source at the Living Future unConference this month in Seattle.

At the end of that April evening, Andrew handed me a business card with his contact information. The card belonged to his company, iLiv, a local tech start-up focusing on collaboration in green building design and operations, he told me. He explained that he had been impressed by results he’d gotten from composing scores that were designed to give performers in a large orchestra the freedom to create, or as Andrew described it, “making each individual performer into a soloist”. He explained that iLiv’s software would help other types of teams to collaborate effectively, harvesting the creativity and know-how of each team member in much the same way. In green building specifically, this would lead to better buildings.

An entrepreneur myself, I joined the iLiv team later that year, and began by interviewing the kinds of folks we nicked-named “deep greenies” about their own collaboration processes. I met Bill Reed and learned about Integrative Process, Huston Eubank (an iLiv team member), Ann Edminster, Danny Pearl, Phil Williams, Tom Lent, Steve Selkowitz, Michael ChandlerNadav Malin, and Pliny Fisk, to name a few. They all reported a disconnect in building and a need for a big change and a new way to work together in order to get a building that would be more than the sum of its parts (i.e. a building that was a working system, and part of a greater ecosystem).

It was Mary Davidge who introduced me to the Living Building Challenge, a system like the LEED Rating System, only more stringent. I attended my first Living Future unConference in 2009 and haven’t missed one since. Last year, I even had the opportunity to host a session alongside Ann Edminster and Christine Magar.

In 2012, Living Building Challenge was recognized by the Buckminster Fuller Institute and named winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Andrew and I ran into LBC Founder, Jason McLennan,  at Bioneers (another “deep greenie” conference) that year, and we pitched the idea of Andrew performing at the next Living Future. Jason and his team accepted and have slotted Andrew as the opening act for this year’s keynote, David Suzuki. Andrew will play his Tensegrity Sound Source #5 the same way he performed it at Integrity Day, only this time he will be introducing David McConville (BFI President) and David Suzuki instead of Buckminster Fuller.

So, come check out Andrew, opening for David Suzuki’s keynote, at Living Future in Seattle this year. I’ll be the one making home videos on my iPad (and sending them to our Twitter followers). 😉

Where: Westin Seattle Grand Ballroom

When: 6:30pm, Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Cost: $75 for reception and keynote only (including David Suzuki), or if you’re already attending the conference, admission is free with your full conference pass.

iLiv outside the Box

Image Source: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2005/10/CartoonCreativity
Image Source: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2005/10/CartoonCreativity

Many businesses are starting to use cloud storage for their important files and documents. The ROI is clear: why spend time and money running your own file servers when you can get someone else to do it? And that’s what service providers like Box provide: a file server in the cloud.

But what if you want to help your teams communicate and collaborate better? What if you need them to work together in new ways, build better relationships, be more creative, define and continuously refine a shared vision? These are the benefits of deep, integrative collaboration.

With a file server in the cloud, you are not enabling these benefits, because files are just data, and data does not collaborate. People collaborate.

iLiv All-In can do everything services such as Box can do with files — storage, version control, sharing, auditing, access control — because people do need to share files. But unlike those other services, files are not the center of attention in All-In. All-In puts people and process at the center.

You can’t put people in a box if you want them to be collaborative and creative. And you won’t get collaboration out of a box. Even an online box.

Teaming, Innovation, Amy Edmondson, and iLiv

Teaming is a term used to focus attention on the activities of people working together in teams. It’s different from the word teamwork, which merely distinguishes the type of work done by people in teams as opposed to solo work or work between principals and assistants.

I have come across the term recently like an old friend; indeed, through an old friend: Amy Edmondson worked with Buckminster Fuller in his final years, just as I did with John Cage, and I met her through my connection to Bucky, which sprung from my tensegrity sound source performances.

Turns out Amy has been researching for 20 years how teamwork is changing in and of itself, as well as how organizations are changing to be more teaming-oriented. She teaches these ideas at Harvard Business School, and she published a book on the subject in 2012.

Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Amy C. Edmondson, Edgar H. Schein, ISBN: 978-0-7879-7093-2

Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy

Here’s a brief exploration of how iLiv and Amy’s ideas relate:

Edmondson on Teaming iLiv
Teaming is an active process iLiv All-In is an integrative process collaboration and communication platform
Imagine a fluid network of interconnected individuals working in temporary teams Each All-In Project is organized as a set of events assigned to one or more roles; those who accept responsibility for a project role can come from any organization, discipline, or geographic region, and their active involvement can cover only a part of the project’s overall time span; each new project has its own set of team members, and the evolution of the team over time is easily accommodated.
Teaming blends relating to people, listening to other points of view, … This emphasis on relationships and listening is what our friend and partner Bill Reed is all about.
…coordinating actions, and making shared decisions. The All-In Time pod is built for event coordination, know-how sharing, and decision capturing.
The purpose of teaming is to expand knowledge and expertise so that organizations and their customers can capture the value. The value proposition of All-In is: for the owner, project success (ROI); for the domain expert, a better, self-improving process; and for all project participants, increased creativity and productivity.

And I found these complementary concepts in just the first few pages of Amy’s book!

As all iLiv fans know, our work in software development draws heavily on our past in the performing arts. In dance, music, and theatre, groups are often made up of individuals who have worked together for many years. But just as often, groups are formed for shorter periods (a run of a play) or even for brief encounters (a musical performance).

Teaming highlights—for more traditional organizations—the temporary aspect.

Conventional management often struggles with ephemeral organizational entities, based as it is on the assumption that the organization is supposed to be founded, grow, and reach maturity over many years and decades.

This pull towards perceived stability is a serious risk factor in the current economic environment. The best ideas, and the best products and services, are more often than not born these days of rapid, interdisciplinary, creative processes that bring together people from all over the know-who, know-what, and know-how map.

Teaming describes the dynamics of these one-off collections of individuals, and All-In caters to them with utilities that support their particular qualities and needs. Both can contribute to upper management’s following and understanding of these critical creative production units.

This is only our second post, but already it introduces a category we will expand upon rapidly: the iLiv Reading List. Check back often for more.

And read Teaming!