Gov 2.0 Isn’t Achieved via Instruction Manual

Over the last few weeks, I had an opportunity to speak with some of our nation’s finest, both domestic and abroad.  On December 3, I spoke to the members of the All Services Social Media Council and then on December 9, I spoke at the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Public Affairs Conference. From D.C. to Germany, these members of our military never failed to impress me with their dedication to their mission and their love of their country.

Not surprisingly, they also held a common interest in social media – what it means to them, what it means to their organizations, and how (and if) they might be able to use these tools. Everyone was looking for some sort of guidance that would answer these questions. Should they create a Facebook page? Should their Twitter page be a personal account or an organizational account? What blogging platform should they use and how often should they blog?

Coincidentally, the new Open Government Directive, thought by many to be THE document that will answer some of these questions and provide government agencies with the direction they’re craving, was released last week.  The Department of Defense is supposed to be releasing their social media policy in the next month or so.  Other agencies are following suit and issuing their own policies and guidelines.

However, these documents, no matter how many deadlines, milestones, and tactics are included in them, aren’t going to provide a manual for achieving the vision of Government 2.0. Open government isn’t something that’s going to be accomplished via a laundry list of actions that can be checkmarked away.  There isn’t going to be a point when your organization flips the final switch and says, “Ta-da!! Now we’re Government 2.0!!”

Sorry – it’s just not that simple.  Despite the benefits the Open Government Directive will bring, it’s just a start. Government 2.0 isn’t going to happen because you’ve gone through and checked all the boxes from the Open Government Directive.  You can make your datasets available.  You can publish all the open government plans you want.  You can establish working group upon working group.  All of those tactics are great first steps, but think longer term.  Think beyond the 120 day deadline in the Open Government Directive and try to imagine what your agency looks like in this new world of open government.

How will you instill this culture of collaboration, transparency, and participation internally, among your employees so that this is standard operating procedure?  Will openness and transparency be encouraged in new hire training?  Will there be some sort of punishment for those who continue to hoard information and close it off?  Will employees be rewarded for being more transparent?

Achieving Government 2.0 is going to require some serious change management that goes beyond any one Directive and hits at the heart of the organization’s people, processes, and technology.  This is going to be an ongoing process change and we’re still at the start of it.

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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/).

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  • Great post, Steve. Very true. It’s about behavioral changes, and new expectations. It’s about an attitude adjustment for the government.

  • Great post, Steve. Very true. It’s about behavioral changes, and new expectations. It’s about an attitude adjustment for the government.

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  • …so why praise these released policy documents if such is not the way to go?

  • …so why praise these released policy documents if such is not the way to go?

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  • I never said they weren’t the way to go – just that they can’t be the only thing that’s looked for. They’re needed but they’re just a start.

  • I never said they weren’t the way to go – just that they can’t be the only thing that’s looked for. They’re needed but they’re just a start.

  • Thanks Mark – I hope we don’t see agencies doing just enough to “check the box” but not actually changing the way they work. These aren’t taskers that can be done and filed away – these policies should help create the foundation for real transformative change.

  • Thanks Mark – I hope we don’t see agencies doing just enough to “check the box” but not actually changing the way they work. These aren’t taskers that can be done and filed away – these policies should help create the foundation for real transformative change.

  • Thanks for this great post, Steve. “Culture of collaboration, transparency, and participation,” is the key, and I share the concern about a checklist approach that won’t get us anywhere. Keep up the good fight!

  • Thanks for this great post, Steve. “Culture of collaboration, transparency, and participation,” is the key, and I share the concern about a checklist approach that won’t get us anywhere. Keep up the good fight!

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  • As a former bureaucrat with experience in guidance and compliance at five federal agencies, I can tell you that the average government employee genuinely wants to satisfy the directives of Management (esp. the person most affectlng his/her career: the Boss.)

    However, based on my experience in determining compliance with Management directives, I have found that (1) Employees are unsure what to do when a directive is not sufficiently clear about its goals, and (2) Employees are not very good at reading their boss’s mind (esp. when the boss is also trying to read his/her boss’s mind, and so on up the line).

    Compared to civilian agencies, I have also found that military agencies generally do a much better job of being clear, in its directives, about what the goal is, and how success will be measured.

    Judging from the still-undefined qualities mentioned in the OGD, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the bureaucrats will do what they told, and then hope that additional clarification (i.e., guidance) is issued about the fuzzy stuff.

    That’s why the military people are *waiting* for the DOD’s “social media policy”. Nobody wants to jump the gun and find out that, career-wise, they have shot themselves in the foot.

  • As a former bureaucrat with experience in guidance and compliance at five federal agencies, I can tell you that the average government employee genuinely wants to satisfy the directives of Management (esp. the person most affectlng his/her career: the Boss.)

    However, based on my experience in determining compliance with Management directives, I have found that (1) Employees are unsure what to do when a directive is not sufficiently clear about its goals, and (2) Employees are not very good at reading their boss’s mind (esp. when the boss is also trying to read his/her boss’s mind, and so on up the line).

    Compared to civilian agencies, I have also found that military agencies generally do a much better job of being clear, in its directives, about what the goal is, and how success will be measured.

    Judging from the still-undefined qualities mentioned in the OGD, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the bureaucrats will do what they told, and then hope that additional clarification (i.e., guidance) is issued about the fuzzy stuff.

    That’s why the military people are *waiting* for the DOD’s “social media policy”. Nobody wants to jump the gun and find out that, career-wise, they have shot themselves in the foot.

  • Yes, the Open Government Directive is a start but, unfortunately, it was not “beta-tested” (i.e., no draft offered out for comments), so it has weaknesses.

    That means it will be necessary to issue additional guidance (e.g., What is an “agency”?), omparable to the “patches” to address weaknesses that were missed in the design of our computer’s operation system.

  • Yes, the Open Government Directive is a start but, unfortunately, it was not “beta-tested” (i.e., no draft offered out for comments), so it has weaknesses.

    That means it will be necessary to issue additional guidance (e.g., What is an “agency”?), omparable to the “patches” to address weaknesses that were missed in the design of our computer’s operation system.

  • The thing is – achieving this change and “becoming an open government” won’t be achieved simply by following the instructions on a series of memos and directives. It’s got to be incorporated into the day-to-day routines and processes of government. This isn’t something that can be forced upon an agency’s employees – “well, this memo here says that we have to be more open and that we should share all our data with Agency X up the street so that’s what we’re going to do” – when those same employees have, for decades, operated under totally different guidance.

  • The thing is – achieving this change and “becoming an open government” won’t be achieved simply by following the instructions on a series of memos and directives. It’s got to be incorporated into the day-to-day routines and processes of government. This isn’t something that can be forced upon an agency’s employees – “well, this memo here says that we have to be more open and that we should share all our data with Agency X up the street so that’s what we’re going to do” – when those same employees have, for decades, operated under totally different guidance.

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  • Hey Steve,
    Happy New Year and thanks again for being part of our social media conference! Still no word on the SM policy although it was supposed to be out by the end of 2009. Fingers crossed that it’s out soon. Of course we’re still pluggin away as best we can and trying to get out front and connect with folks.

    You’re absolutely right about the change management and luckily we’ve got some great backing here at EUCOM. You need to have the right people doing this work also. There is NO playbook and there won’t be. It’s about being brave and smart and figuring out how and where to connect with people. You’ve got to venture out and try new things and it’s not easy, but it’s rewarding!

    Happy Twenty Ten!

    Kristi

  • Hey Steve,
    Happy New Year and thanks again for being part of our social media conference! Still no word on the SM policy although it was supposed to be out by the end of 2009. Fingers crossed that it’s out soon. Of course we’re still pluggin away as best we can and trying to get out front and connect with folks.

    You’re absolutely right about the change management and luckily we’ve got some great backing here at EUCOM. You need to have the right people doing this work also. There is NO playbook and there won’t be. It’s about being brave and smart and figuring out how and where to connect with people. You’ve got to venture out and try new things and it’s not easy, but it’s rewarding!

    Happy Twenty Ten!

    Kristi

  • Thanks Kristi – you’ve got great team of folks out there at EUCOM and I was glad to be part of a great conference! Looking forward to working with you more in the future!

  • Thanks Kristi – you’ve got great team of folks out there at EUCOM and I was glad to be part of a great conference! Looking forward to working with you more in the future!