Collaboration Context: Global

Our last panel of speakers during “Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership through Collaboration“ focuses on global collaborations:

  • A Critical Take: How Do We Present Cultural Content to Our Users?
    Nick Poole, Chief Executive, Collections Trust
  • A Critical Take: How Do We Create and Maintain Standards?
    Eric Miller, President, Zepheira
  • A Critical Take: How Do We Source Our Tools?
    Chris Prom, Assistant University Archivist, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • In this segment of the forum, we acknowledge all of the activity which has already gone into collaborations benefiting the entire community. However, we also feel it is time to take a step back and re-assess whether our current behaviors in creating shared aggregations, standards and tools are serving us well in meeting user expectations at the network level.

    Here’s the background:

    Global Solutions – Common Values
    “Things work at scale because the community subscribes to the same values.”

    In local and group collaborations, institutions and their interests are at the forefront, and the collaborative activity is predicated on the direct local benefit reaped. A collaboration guided by common values introduces a notable paradigm shift. It does not put the institutions first, but rather focuses on the intended audience and what that audience expects us to deliver.

    While any type of collaboration can be fueled by common values, including those circumscribed by institutional boundaries or specific group interests, value-based collaboration emerges as a survival strategy in the global networked environment. Ultimately, we all serve those who want access to our information, increasingly in digital form. Collaboration around values is driven by a shared vision which allows an entire community to respond to challenges in a consistent manner, and invisibly aligns all of us in an effort to realize a shared vision. In this context, the emphasis shifts from managing the collaboration to addressing the shared values. The sphere of common values collaboration includes standards, policies for copyright and data aggregation, the commons and open data movements, and the vision of Linked Data.

    While common value collaborations may have the lowest direct overhead (parties do not have to remain in constant and carefully orchestrated communication to remain in sync), they may also be the most difficult to sell to parent institutions, which generally pay their employees to work on local issues. The institutional benefit of such collaborations is less tangible since they raise all ships. As a matter of fact, in some instances common value behaviors may be perceived as threatening local goals, such as policies and technical protocols for making institutional content freely and openly available in many different venues.

    At its best, applying global values that make things work in a larger context in group and local settings ultimately prepares those institutions for the opportunities of the networked environment. There’s benefit in thinking globally and acting locally.

    In the next (and final) post in this series on the collaboration contexts and how they’ve shaped the overall structure of the forum, we’ll revisit the popular collaboration continuum, first introduced in the Beyond the Silos of the LAMs [pdf] report.

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