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What is EMIS? We need a new answer.

In the last month, I’ve read over 50 research papers, blog posts, and articles on analytics software for buildings. I realize this would put most people to sleep, but I love it. It’s also part of my job. One thing I don’t love is the standard, copy-and-paste framework most people are using to describe analytics software. I think it’s confusing, outdated, and it’s inhibiting the adoption of this powerful tool. 

It’s time for a new answer to the fundamental question, “What is it?”.

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When analytics insights fall on deaf ears

Ouch. That deflated feeling when we uncover an insight using analytics and share it with our team or client and… nothing happens. Or we’re presenting a screenshot from the EMIS and the audience is unresponsive or just doesn’t get it. Blank stares. Or you send a report from your EMIS and no one responds. I hate that feeling. 

If you’re finding cool shit with your analytics and it’s falling on deaf ears, it might be time to take a step back and consider this: EMIS is an exploratory analytics tool. We use it to find the needle in the haystack. To understand what the data is hiding in our buildings. But to get shit done, we need to transition to explaining what the data means, including who, what, where, why, and how. 

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What’s your favorite analytics software?

My colleagues, clients, and partners have always come to me when they have a question about deploying analytics software in the built environment. Without hesitation, the most frequently-asked question, especially for newcomers, is this: 

What’s your favorite analytics software?

Or this: 

What do you think of X software? Is it better than Y? 

Lucky for me, I love answering this question. I have plenty of opinions on the merits of this or that brand. I love to go down a rabbit hole of the best energy data visualizations or fault detection algorithms. I love calling out vendors for bullshit marketing hype and selling nothing but smoke and mirrors.

But I can’t answer it. Not yet at least.

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2018 Annual Review

I do this every year in my journal, but decided to share it here this year. Thanks to James Clear for the inspiration.

What Went Well

  • I moved to Denver! Sometimes I take this for granted. (The mind tends to move on rather quickly…) It was a big change and it took a ton of energy, but I did it and I’m sure glad I did. There were many times in the mountains this year that I would suddenly burst out, “I can’t believe I live here!”
  • I got divorced, and it was earth-shattering and heartbreaking and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. What made it positive is that it was also loving and amicable and free of any sort of fighting or animosity. We depart as friends, better off for having married and devoted a part of our lives to each other. Thank you, Kayli.
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lessons learned: the fundamental attribution error

As I’ve been promoted and promoted and promoted again, I’ve had various conversations with other managers assessing the performance of others on the team. They’re frustrating. They’re good at this, but don’t do this right or that right. They’re problems in the way of our success.

While I felt all of these things from a management perspective, I also had the perspective of the employees, having done the same job and had the same struggles. From that perspective came this little voice in my head wondering why I was judging those people like this. Hey, man, those guys are doing the best they can inside of a broken system.

But I didn’t say anything. Perhaps my ego liked getting promoted, at least partly because of others’ “poor” performances, so I didn’t listen much to my little voice.

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Seven Questions to Avoid Competition

We recently lost a very large project in a competitive selection process. It hurt so much that it had me reaching to my bookshelf for inspiration on what to do. I reached for Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, and I decided it’s time to build something that has no competition. Easier said than done.

Here are Thiel’s questions to ask yourself on whether you can actually make that happen:

  1. Can you create breakthrough technology?
  2. Is now the right time to start this particular business?
  3. Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. Do you have the right team?
  5. Do you have a way to deliver/sell your product? 
  6. Will your market position be defensible for 10-20 years?
  7. Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

Otherwise, you’re sort of hoping for a miracle.

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

We live in the world our questions create.

— David Copperrider

This brilliant little book is basically just a list of seven simple questions with the power to shift almost any conversation in our lives. They can be used on their own or sequentially. Here we go.

(1) What’s on your mind?

In other words, what should the real focus of this conversation be?

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not quite right

When we complain, we’re subtly telling ourselves and others that life is not quite right exactly as it is. It’s the opposite of gratitude.

When we lie, we’re subtly telling ourselves and others that we are not quite right exactly as we are. It’s the opposite of self-love.

being wrong

I’ve been on a binge-read-and-reread of Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck in the last few weeks. The title sounds gimmicky, but it’s really f*cking good — good enough for me to read three times in a row, which says a lot given my short book attention span.

One of Mark’s five values to live our lives by is uncertainty. We cannot learn anything, and therefore improve things, without first not knowing something. Seems simple, but this openness to being wrong is f*cking difficult, and it must exist for any real growth to take place. The more you embrace uncertainty, the more comfortable you feel in finding out what you don’t know.

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