Stop the Posturing About Government 2.0 and Do It Already

Stand Out and Do Something!

Stand Out and Do Something!

It’s about time.  It’s time to stop talking about theories of Government 2.0.  Time to stop predicting how the Obama administration is going to use social media.  Time to stop whining about all of the challenges involved with bringing social media to the government.  Time to stop the boundless optimism about the potential that you’re seeing.   Time to stop patting ourselves on the back.  Time to step out of the echo chamber of the social media blogosphere.   It’s time to start doing.

I think most of my readers would agree with me that social media is here to stay.  The technology can and will change, but the authenticity and relationships that the technology enables isn’t going anywhere.  Our government has no choice but to start moving more and more toward social media.  We’re already seeing it with Intellipedia, with change.gov, with the TSA’s blog – within virtually every government organization, social media is at least being discussed.  My company has clients across the federal government, and I could get a meeting with pretty much any of them just by saying that I lead our social media practice and I’d like to discuss how their organization could take advantage of social media.  The point is that there’s demand for social media expertise in the public sector.  Everyone is curious, everyone wants to know what all the buzz is about, and everyone is looking for the right answers.

Our time is now.  It’s time to start doing.  If you work for the federal government or for a government contractor, there are opportunities galore for you.  If you’re sitting in your cubicle reading this, just counting the minutes till you can leave for the day, this is your chance.  Social media and the government is your opportunity to stand out and do something to effect real change in our government.

Don’t tell me it’s too hard or that your boss doesn’t know YouTube from an iPod.  Those are excuses, not reasons.  If YouTube is blocked where you work, get it unblocked.  Write a white paper justifying why it shouldn’t be blocked.  Meet with your boss about it.  Meet with your boss’s boss about it.  Start a blog where you talk about it.  Volunteer to give a brown bag presentation to your office.  Just DO something!  Take the initiative and work on changing how your organization works – don’t just sit there sulking, saying, “I wish we could do social media here, but we can’t even get on Facebook so there’s no use.”  Bringing social media to your organization isn’t something that happens from 9-5.  It happens from 5-9, after everyone else has gone home.

I know it’s not easy.  In fact, it’s going to be REALLY hard.  Hard, but definitely not impossible.  You’re going to face a lot of opposition.  You’re going to encounter a lot of nay-sayers.  You’re going to have to work a lot of hours.  You’re going to have to endure a lot of rejection.  Hell, you’ll probably get reprimanded or even fired.

More than likely though, you’ll become recognized.  You’ll be noticeable.  You’ll be in demand.  Most importantly, you’ll make a difference.

Social media and government started not with some policy or memo from the senior leadership, but from regular people sitting in a cubicle who saw an opportunity and decided to do something about it.  They didn’t see a policy prohibiting blogging and say, “oh well, I guess that ends that.”  No, they pulled together briefings on why blogging was needed.  They found examples of others who were doing it.  They told anyone who would listen about the power of blogging.  They got meetings with his bosses.  They eventually changed the policy.

It’s time for you to be that guy and to step up, take the initiative and not let red tape and bureaucracy stop you.   Don’t accept no as an answer and don’t let a couple unenlightened colleagues stop your drive to effect change.   Stand out from the crowd and actually do something about it.

*Image courtesy of Flickr user Paul Likes Pics

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About sradick

I’m Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh.

Find out more about me here (http://steveradick.com/about/).

View all posts by sradick
  • I fully agree…
    To see what I have done so far in this regard check out what I have put together for the organization I work for.
    http://fire.nist.gov/fds

    To summarize I have integrated a .gov domain website and internal project workflow with the following web services:
    – Google Groups ( http://groups.google.com/group/fds-smv )
    – Google Code Project Hosting, which includes SVN repository, Wiki, Support Issue Tracker, File Distribution. ( http://fds-smv.googlecode.com )
    – Blogger.com (blog.fds-smv.net)
    – Screencasts ( http://fire.nist.gov/fds/assets/video/FDS-SMV_on_OSX.mov )
    – Google Analytics

    All of this has fundamentally altered the way we do business for the better. I encourage all of my fellows in government to find ways to meet their mission needs through community building and social media technologies.

    -Bryan

  • I fully agree…
    To see what I have done so far in this regard check out what I have put together for the organization I work for.
    http://fire.nist.gov/fds

    To summarize I have integrated a .gov domain website and internal project workflow with the following web services:
    – Google Groups ( http://groups.google.com/group/fds-smv )
    – Google Code Project Hosting, which includes SVN repository, Wiki, Support Issue Tracker, File Distribution. ( http://fds-smv.googlecode.com )
    – Blogger.com (blog.fds-smv.net)
    – Screencasts ( http://fire.nist.gov/fds/assets/video/FDS-SMV_on_OSX.mov )
    – Google Analytics

    All of this has fundamentally altered the way we do business for the better. I encourage all of my fellows in government to find ways to meet their mission needs through community building and social media technologies.

    -Bryan

  • Steve…really like the opening paragraph. I too am tired of doing the cheerleader thing – switching to taking the boss’s hand and leading them through a no kidding issue and solving a problem…connecting with their workforce at the same time. Practical application of getting the business message out there.

  • Steve…really like the opening paragraph. I too am tired of doing the cheerleader thing – switching to taking the boss’s hand and leading them through a no kidding issue and solving a problem…connecting with their workforce at the same time. Practical application of getting the business message out there.

  • Steve,
    You are exactly right: stop thinking and theorizing, start doing. I would add, however, that the best way to start doing is to leverage lessons learned from others who are “doing” social media. Becoming part of the community and collaborating is a huge piece of successful social media. I think that the biggest challenge for individuals in large or small organizations, public or private sector is making the mental shift from broadcasting information to participating in the conversation. This does not come naturally for Digital Immigrants. Be careful not to miss the point of social media by applying old techniques from the broadcast era…

  • Steve,
    You are exactly right: stop thinking and theorizing, start doing. I would add, however, that the best way to start doing is to leverage lessons learned from others who are “doing” social media. Becoming part of the community and collaborating is a huge piece of successful social media. I think that the biggest challenge for individuals in large or small organizations, public or private sector is making the mental shift from broadcasting information to participating in the conversation. This does not come naturally for Digital Immigrants. Be careful not to miss the point of social media by applying old techniques from the broadcast era…

  • @mixtmedia definitely – you have to start somewhere, and as I mentioned in one of my previous posts (http://steveradick.com/2008/10/20/so-you-want-to-bring-social-media-to-your-organization/), reading is the first step. What I’m tired of is people who have the defeatist attitude that never get past that first step. Of course the policies aren’t going to be social media-friendly, they were probably developed by people who don’t understand social media. But you can’t let that stop you. The best policies are the ones that change and adapt – there has to be someone pushing for that change though.

  • @mixtmedia definitely – you have to start somewhere, and as I mentioned in one of my previous posts (http://steveradick.com/2008/10/20/so-you-want-to-bring-social-media-to-your-organization/), reading is the first step. What I’m tired of is people who have the defeatist attitude that never get past that first step. Of course the policies aren’t going to be social media-friendly, they were probably developed by people who don’t understand social media. But you can’t let that stop you. The best policies are the ones that change and adapt – there has to be someone pushing for that change though.

  • @mecredy Take a look at this post and the one by Jason Falls that I link to in there – right in line with what you’re saying.

  • @mecredy Take a look at this post and the one by Jason Falls that I link to in there – right in line with what you’re saying.

  • Hi Steve,

    Every week I learn about another agency project that incorporates social media. People are “getting it” and giving social media a try. I think places like http://www.collaborationproject.org are highlighting those positive developments…and aren’t keeping up with the rapid changes. Also, Mike Kujawski (www.mikekujawski.ca) has started a wiki that seeks to capture the many (international) Government 2.0 best practices:

    http://government20bestpractices.pbwiki.com/

    And I know the US list is nowhere near up-to-date (been meaning to carve out some time to add about 10-15 more projects)!

    Thanks again for your post.

  • Hi Steve,

    Every week I learn about another agency project that incorporates social media. People are “getting it” and giving social media a try. I think places like http://www.collaborationproject.org are highlighting those positive developments…and aren’t keeping up with the rapid changes. Also, Mike Kujawski (www.mikekujawski.ca) has started a wiki that seeks to capture the many (international) Government 2.0 best practices:

    http://government20bestpractices.pbwiki.com/

    And I know the US list is nowhere near up-to-date (been meaning to carve out some time to add about 10-15 more projects)!

    Thanks again for your post.

  • Enjoying your blog, Steve. The issues is definitely once you’ve immersed yourself a bit, it’s time to take it out of the choir. And, we’ve got to show that these tools add value and aren’t just fun.
    I’m already working with some City of SF legislative folks, and, in my backyard, with two great citizens who run arounddublinblog.com, where we hope to do a lot more integration of social media tools with the news they are already pulling in, along with perhaps some social media trainings for local activists and anyone else who wants to learn.

  • Enjoying your blog, Steve. The issues is definitely once you’ve immersed yourself a bit, it’s time to take it out of the choir. And, we’ve got to show that these tools add value and aren’t just fun.
    I’m already working with some City of SF legislative folks, and, in my backyard, with two great citizens who run arounddublinblog.com, where we hope to do a lot more integration of social media tools with the news they are already pulling in, along with perhaps some social media trainings for local activists and anyone else who wants to learn.

  • Archie

    Good luck with some people. Had a higher up pinhead trot around a recent ABC News article about how terrorists use Twitter. This person then said this is a very good reason why our organization needs to be careful in doing social media. Other important people were CC’ed on this E-mail. Of course, it’s a stupid argument and there’s no relationship at all, but some people will always be afraid of this social media/Web 2.0 world that they have no knowledge of. They prefer static Web sites that people must visit.

  • Archie

    Good luck with some people. Had a higher up pinhead trot around a recent ABC News article about how terrorists use Twitter. This person then said this is a very good reason why our organization needs to be careful in doing social media. Other important people were CC’ed on this E-mail. Of course, it’s a stupid argument and there’s no relationship at all, but some people will always be afraid of this social media/Web 2.0 world that they have no knowledge of. They prefer static Web sites that people must visit.

  • Go Steve go! After planning for, and worrying about all the catastrophes and horrors that may be imagined, you have to do it at some point. So let’s do it! Very nice.

  • Go Steve go! After planning for, and worrying about all the catastrophes and horrors that may be imagined, you have to do it at some point. So let’s do it! Very nice.

  • A-men!

  • A-men!

  • Chary Izquierdo

    AMEN!

    Just do it and face the push back squarely. One technique that worked for me in my agency was publicly questioning at all levels (and in a nice way) the validity of any and every rationale for blocking any social media site. Most are based out of ignorance and fear of the unknown. Once challenged to defend their rationale most people responsible for the blocking admit their ignorance giving you get a teachable moment

  • Chary Izquierdo

    AMEN!

    Just do it and face the push back squarely. One technique that worked for me in my agency was publicly questioning at all levels (and in a nice way) the validity of any and every rationale for blocking any social media site. Most are based out of ignorance and fear of the unknown. Once challenged to defend their rationale most people responsible for the blocking admit their ignorance giving you get a teachable moment

  • @Andrew I wasn’t implying that there are plenty of great examples where the government is “getting” it and doing it. This post was simply meant to spur on to action those people who “get it” but aren’t doing anything about it. I’m tired of talking to people who want to do social media but let an ignorant boss or an archaic policy get in their way. I realize that’s difficult sometime, but if you truly believe in social media making a difference, then it’s worth the extra work to write a white paper after hours or pull together a briefing at midnight. It’s precisely the examples you mention (among many others) why people need to step up and do something about it – that’s how we make progress in this. not by having memos sent down from leadership about using social media, but one guy sticking his neck out to push the envelope.

  • @Andrew I wasn’t implying that there are plenty of great examples where the government is “getting” it and doing it. This post was simply meant to spur on to action those people who “get it” but aren’t doing anything about it. I’m tired of talking to people who want to do social media but let an ignorant boss or an archaic policy get in their way. I realize that’s difficult sometime, but if you truly believe in social media making a difference, then it’s worth the extra work to write a white paper after hours or pull together a briefing at midnight. It’s precisely the examples you mention (among many others) why people need to step up and do something about it – that’s how we make progress in this. not by having memos sent down from leadership about using social media, but one guy sticking his neck out to push the envelope.

  • @archie – don’t let that stop you! That’s the whole point of this post. Don’t let one ignorant manager squash the social media effort. Trot out reports of all the good things that Twitter is doing. Pull together a presentation that shows the risks to your organization NOT using social media. Just keep pushing…they’ve eventually have to come around, or they’ll cease to be relevant.

  • @chary – Great tactic, and one that I’ve used often as well!

  • @archie – don’t let that stop you! That’s the whole point of this post. Don’t let one ignorant manager squash the social media effort. Trot out reports of all the good things that Twitter is doing. Pull together a presentation that shows the risks to your organization NOT using social media. Just keep pushing…they’ve eventually have to come around, or they’ll cease to be relevant.

  • @chary – Great tactic, and one that I’ve used often as well!

  • exactly, it’s one thing to constantly banter back and forth within the echo chamber, but what do you do with that knowledge you gain there? Take it and do something with it! You’re a good example of how to do that.

  • exactly, it’s one thing to constantly banter back and forth within the echo chamber, but what do you do with that knowledge you gain there? Take it and do something with it! You’re a good example of how to do that.

  • I’m glad there are some cheerleaders out there, but I agree with Steve, it’s time to be proactive. There is a lot of information available on the internet to help state your case, if needed.

    I remember the day when organizations were resistant to getting color copiers, computers, and did not want to give up their type writers. That seems rather funny now, so why resist reaping the benefits of an enterprise solution in the government environment?

    Maybe someone needs a book on 8 track tape or a beta max video that clearly explains how things change. LOL

    We can also take this tip and be more proactive with each other by connecting the wisdom of crowds. I have a simple example where a new friend of mine wrote a book on Web 2.0 Strategy and I blogged about it here http://webtechman.com/blog/2008/12/06/web-20-a-strategy-guide-by-amy-shuen/

    I also wrote a review for it on Amazon.com, gave it my rating, and added it to my communities there. Amy also was kind enough to share some of her thoughts from the book on YouTube.com, so I added some comments and ratings there too. I went on to add content about her book on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, RSS sites, & some bookmarking sites. I believe that some readers here know Amy and I encourage you to write a review or at least give it a rating in any or all these spaces. This is the new economy & these type of actions are the new currency. We should support those that are making the way.

    Are you feeling me?

    Daniel Hudson

  • I’m glad there are some cheerleaders out there, but I agree with Steve, it’s time to be proactive. There is a lot of information available on the internet to help state your case, if needed.

    I remember the day when organizations were resistant to getting color copiers, computers, and did not want to give up their type writers. That seems rather funny now, so why resist reaping the benefits of an enterprise solution in the government environment?

    Maybe someone needs a book on 8 track tape or a beta max video that clearly explains how things change. LOL

    We can also take this tip and be more proactive with each other by connecting the wisdom of crowds. I have a simple example where a new friend of mine wrote a book on Web 2.0 Strategy and I blogged about it here http://webtechman.com/blog/2008/12/06/web-20-a-strategy-guide-by-amy-shuen/

    I also wrote a review for it on Amazon.com, gave it my rating, and added it to my communities there. Amy also was kind enough to share some of her thoughts from the book on YouTube.com, so I added some comments and ratings there too. I went on to add content about her book on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, RSS sites, & some bookmarking sites. I believe that some readers here know Amy and I encourage you to write a review or at least give it a rating in any or all these spaces. This is the new economy & these type of actions are the new currency. We should support those that are making the way.

    Are you feeling me?

    Daniel Hudson

  • I may be the only person who thinks that government is actually moving along well with social media.

    It does take longer to steer a big ship, but 18 months ago there were few government blogs, now there are hundreds and there are probably over 100 Twitter feeds being managed by government agencies and thousands being managed by government employees.

    It’s good to keep the pressure on, but the progress already made by TSA, EPA, NASA, DoD, USA.gov, and others is amazing and the momentum is incredible.

    GovDelivery is a Software as a Service company, and it took more than 5 years of evangelizing before government recognized how hosted software might lead to efficiencies. By contrast, Twitter is in its infancy and already being embraced across government.

    Thanks for writing about this and for your terrific work. A lot of the people making the comments are the reason that there has already been good progress.

  • I may be the only person who thinks that government is actually moving along well with social media.

    It does take longer to steer a big ship, but 18 months ago there were few government blogs, now there are hundreds and there are probably over 100 Twitter feeds being managed by government agencies and thousands being managed by government employees.

    It’s good to keep the pressure on, but the progress already made by TSA, EPA, NASA, DoD, USA.gov, and others is amazing and the momentum is incredible.

    GovDelivery is a Software as a Service company, and it took more than 5 years of evangelizing before government recognized how hosted software might lead to efficiencies. By contrast, Twitter is in its infancy and already being embraced across government.

    Thanks for writing about this and for your terrific work. A lot of the people making the comments are the reason that there has already been good progress.

  • @Scott – I agree with you that the government is moving along well with social media, and in no way did I mean to diminish the progress that has been made by the agencies you mention. I simply wish more people in more agencies would follow those examples. I’m tired of hearing the excuses that “my organization is unique” or “we’ve got policies against social media so there’s no point in trying.” I’m also not just referring to the agencies themselves. I’ve sent this blog post to many members of my company too – I’m tired of all the development of white papers, briefings, and talk about it. I just want more people to get out the incubation stage and into the (gov)delivery stage.

  • @Scott – I agree with you that the government is moving along well with social media, and in no way did I mean to diminish the progress that has been made by the agencies you mention. I simply wish more people in more agencies would follow those examples. I’m tired of hearing the excuses that “my organization is unique” or “we’ve got policies against social media so there’s no point in trying.” I’m also not just referring to the agencies themselves. I’ve sent this blog post to many members of my company too – I’m tired of all the development of white papers, briefings, and talk about it. I just want more people to get out the incubation stage and into the (gov)delivery stage.

  • Thank you for the reply. You really have your finger on the pulse of the many issues surrounding government and use of new media / Web 2.0. Every agency would blog if they had someone as efficient as you at keeping up with comments!

  • Thank you for the reply. You really have your finger on the pulse of the many issues surrounding government and use of new media / Web 2.0. Every agency would blog if they had someone as efficient as you at keeping up with comments!

  • Thanks Scott, but I don’t look at it as “keeping up with comments.” Rather, it’s just like if you left me a voicemail or an email – I wouldn’t just ignore that either. I’m just keeping up with the conversation – whether that takes place via phone, email, blog, Twitter, or whatever, it’s all just talking with people.

  • Thanks Scott, but I don’t look at it as “keeping up with comments.” Rather, it’s just like if you left me a voicemail or an email – I wouldn’t just ignore that either. I’m just keeping up with the conversation – whether that takes place via phone, email, blog, Twitter, or whatever, it’s all just talking with people.

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  • October 1, 2008 – Government 2.0: Where is the Urgency?
    http://mashable.com/2008/10/01/government-where-is-the-urgency/

  • October 1, 2008 – Government 2.0: Where is the Urgency?
    http://mashable.com/2008/10/01/government-where-is-the-urgency/

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  • Steve, this is a very motivating and practical post. I went through all the things you’ve described here. Just that this is possibly the problem with any new idea that is going to change the way people work. There will be resistance; the person speaking about it would be under scrutiny to know why they have nothing better to do. One thing with social learning is that it is hard to prove its value at a stage when the implementation isn’t done. Like I can do a prototype and show it brought value to the company, as it takes time.

    I’ve recently posted this idea in our internal ideas and networking portal. I have a 14 people who voted for the idea in about 5 days. I don’t know how far this will go to conscious implementation but posting the idea is a start. In my org, we seem to have the tools in place just that we’re not using them for learning as part of our jobs.

    I really like and agree with your point about being the change in your organization.

    Thanks for sharing your views!

    Sreya

  • Steve, this is a very motivating and practical post. I went through all the things you’ve described here. Just that this is possibly the problem with any new idea that is going to change the way people work. There will be resistance; the person speaking about it would be under scrutiny to know why they have nothing better to do. One thing with social learning is that it is hard to prove its value at a stage when the implementation isn’t done. Like I can do a prototype and show it brought value to the company, as it takes time.

    I’ve recently posted this idea in our internal ideas and networking portal. I have a 14 people who voted for the idea in about 5 days. I don’t know how far this will go to conscious implementation but posting the idea is a start. In my org, we seem to have the tools in place just that we’re not using them for learning as part of our jobs.

    I really like and agree with your point about being the change in your organization.

    Thanks for sharing your views!

    Sreya

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  • Thanks Sreya – keep me posted on your progress! I’d love to hear how you and your organization are using social media. I’d also be interested in hearing how you’ve overcome any challenges that you’re facing.

  • Thanks Sreya – keep me posted on your progress! I’d love to hear how you and your organization are using social media. I’d also be interested in hearing how you’ve overcome any challenges that you’re facing.