The New Shape of Collaboration
Passion for Change

The New Shape of Collaboration

Rosemary Jackson  •  

Petro.ai: Collaboration in the Platform, in the workflow, with all the members of a team or organization.

Petro.ai: Figure out your project puzzle with all hands working on the same project in real time or any time.

Explore. Generate ideas. Test and refine. Synthesize. The shape of collaboration is not a conveyor belt where ideas are built sequentially. Petro.ai creates cross-company collaboration within the actual workspace which allows for an iterative tackling of complex problems as seen in the non-linear Stanford Design Thinking. The shape of collaboration in Petro.ai allows for constant integration, for point referencing on a decline curve to cross-referencing between well spacing and flow regime apps.

Design choices within a software platform shape how people interact and how they work. The design of a system influences even how people think. With this research in mind, Dr. Derek Ruths, Associate Professor of Computer Science at McGill University and Chief Data Scientist at Petro.ai, has contributed to the high functionality of the social networking system within the Petro.ai Platform.

Professor Ruths emphasizes that “what’s unique about the Petro.ai workflows are that they have cycles embedded in them, meaning that when somebody adds an insight, that may be someone else’s interpretation that was already mentioned in another context. The image of the conveyor belt is really an inaccurate one because information can’t be added sequentially. It has to be built upon and synthesized. The need for collaboration is the only way that knowledge-based work products are built.

“The goal of collaboration is to allow people to engage around particular knowledge options,” Professor Ruths continues, “The closer you can bring people to the source, the less friction there is in that collaboration."

"You can have people collaborate on well forecasting through Slack, but you create all this friction around pasting stuff, and people not knowing what their comment was anchored to inside the forecast. The idea we’re pursuing inside Petro.ai is bringing the collaboration into the actual space where the knowledge is, where that insight can be generated.

It would be like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle. And every time someone wanted to communicate, they’d have to leave the puzzle, walk out of the room and talk. Then they’d re-enter the room, but at that point, everyone would have forgotten where they were in the process. They’d have to set themselves back up.”

Functionally, collaboration increases the space of possible solutions that workers have access to particularly when the work process requires developing actionable insights. Professor Ruths adds, “What does it take to produce actionable insights? If it was ever the case that one person can produce insights, I feel those days are gone. Now what we have, and what we acknowledge in many parts of industry, is that generating an insight involves a collaborative process. It involves one person contributing an idea, and that stimulating another person’s thinking, another person synthesizing.

Inter-company collaboration can be divided into two distinct relationship directions: vertical and horizonal. Vertical relationships in an organization are important particularly when collaborating, according to the MIT Sloan Management Review, because they “provide a window into who knows and does what in the organization, and into how people make decisions and do their work.” Petro.ai addresses this hierarchy channel with the Making It Official process embedded in each app to make decisions more streamlined.  

Collaboration among peers integrates different perspectives, lowers pressure on the siloed worker, and provides a more rapid research to end-product delivery. Comments and conversation across apps in Petro.ai, across siloed workers in an organization opens-up the real horizontal collaboration. The Harvard Business Review warns that, “the integrated solutions that most customers want—but companies wrestle with developing—require horizontal collaboration… Employees who can reach outside their silos to find colleagues with complementary expertise learn more… and gain skills faster.” 

Petro.ai’s collaboration goals are to reinforce the importance of the engineer as a contributor. “There’s a difference between feeling like you’re a cog in a process or feeling like you’re a member of a community,” Professor Ruths empathizes within the current landscape, “We need that human element, particularly in our world right now. It’s easy to start feeling like we’re cogs if we’re just shuffling emails back and forth. There is something about messaging platforms like Petro.ai. Messaging with more humanized notes that make us feel we’re less like a processing unit and more like we’re valuably engaged in discovery.

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