Six Villains of Gov 2.0

July 11, 2010

Government 2.0, Social Media

I recently came across this funny (and too true) post by Todd Heim on social media villains that piqued both my long-time interest in super-heroes and super-villains and all things Government 2.0 too.  While we pump up the Gov 2.0 Heroes (and even had an entire Day dedicated to them), and we hold conferences to highlight the work done by these heroes, I haven’t seen the opposite side get its due.  Well, I’d like to dedicate this post to the people who make government innovation so difficult, the people who have stood in our way for years, the people who have been classified as hurdles, obstacles, and barriers – the Villains of Gov 2.0.

Dr. Closed Mind

Image courtesy of Flickr user gregmote

“Yeah, that’s a great idea, but we don’t have time for that – just focus on doing your job!”

Description: Dr. Closed Mind has the ability make even the most new and innovative ideas seem like frivolous wastes of time.  He thrives on doing things his way because that’s “the way they’ve always done.” By relying on the force of inertia and his extreme stubbornness, he’s able to simultaneously frustrate his numerous adversaries as well as advance his own career.  Dr. Closed Mind is focused on checking off his task list and will aggressively squash any attempt to disrupt that routine.

Strengths: Able to avoid changing his routine for years on end; leverages allies in the legal and IT security departments to maintain the status quo; super-human ability to make stagnation appear to seem like laser-like focus.

Weaknesses: Transparency.  By exposing the outdated and often inefficient methods of Dr. Closed Mind to more people, you can help shine a light on the work of Dr. Closed Mind and force his leadership to ask him the often-deadly question of “why aren’t we doing it like this instead?”

The Downer

“Sure, it’d be great to do that, but unfortunately, we’re not allowed. I hate working here :(“

Description: The Downer is a deceptively strong villain, capable of destroying the morale of even the strongest teams.  Through near constant talk of policies, regulations, and costs, The Downer calls attention to every possible reason why an idea can’t and won’t work, yet is unable to see the potential benefits.  Changing policies, getting buy-in, and taking risks

Strengths: Able to destroy morale with a single agenda item; has the uncanny ability to rattle off the most obscure policies and regulations; able to turn “quick wins” into insignificant activities that will never amount to anything;

Weaknesses: Change. By highlighting positive changes that have occurred, The Downer’s seemingly immense pessimism can be slowly chipped away and he starts to see that things can change.

The Money-Monger

“I’ve had Ashton Kutcher retweet me – I can show you how to do that too!”

Description: Seeing business development opportunities wherever he goes, the Money-Monger (also known by the aliases “Social Media Ninja” and “Social Media Guru”) has a Red Bull-fueled energy for telling everyone who will listen how he can help them use social media…for a price.  He will probably talk about how to increase your Twitter followers, guarantee that he can create “viral videos,” and tell you how easy social media is.

Strengths: Master of ulterior motives.  Able to see a business opportunity where no one ever had before.  Immune to common social etiquette, meaningful relationships, and small talk.  Has mastered the ability to create 50 slide presentations without one bit of actual thought on any of the slides.

Weaknesses: Strategy.  Weaken the Money-Monger’s defenses by asking him how he measures the effectiveness of his tactics that does NOT involve the number of friends, fans, or followers.  Force the Money-Monger to show how social media will help accomplish your agency’s mission.

Captain Conservative

Courtesy of Flickr User ewen and donabel

“This sounds like a great idea, but let’s make sure that we circulate it with everyone and get their buy-in first.”

Description: Captain Conservative is often both a villain and an ally of the Gov 2.0 Heroes. While Captain Conservative is often supportive of the Gov 2.0 Heroes, he lives by the mantra of “always ask for permission first or you may get fired.”  He’s been brainwashed by two of his former mentors, Dr. Closed Mind and The Downer, who have unfortunately, scrambled his brain.  While his intentions are good, the mental scars of his former mentors still appear strong.

Strengths: Through his sheer likability, Captain Conservative is often able to embed himself into teams early on, only to systematically dismantle them through long, prolonged review and approval processes.  He often leaves no visible traces of the damage he causes and often emerges from the failed project unscathed.

Weaknesses: Top Cover.  By securing the approval of people located above Captain Conservative on the org chart, you can mitigate his fear of doing something wrong and getting in trouble for it.

The Silo

“We’d love to be more collaborative…as long as no one outside of my team can get in and mess with our stuff.”

Description: One of the more powerful Gov 2.0 villains, The Silo is known for his ability to protect sandboxes with a maniacal sense of urgency.  The Silo always considers he and his team unique, and has an almost paranoid fear that everyone else has the worst intentions in mind.  By keeping a stranglehold on his data and his team, The Silo has the ability to set the precedent that sharing data is optional, poisoning an entire organization’s thinking.  Ironically, The Silo is often an outspoken advocate of collaborative tools…as long as he gets final say over who’s collaborating with whom.

Strengths: Seeming collaborative while actually not being collaborative; able to craft incredibly detailed stories about people getting fired, killed, maimed, reprimanded for sharing data; has the innate ability to create a PDF version of virtually everything he and his team share; very comfortable with managing incredibly detailed access controls.

Weaknesses: Open Platforms.  Without the ability to restrict access, The Silo is unable to hoard information and lock it away so he is forced to either use the new tools and share, or use his old methods.

The Information Sucker

“Can you send me any materials you have – someone was asking me about Gov 2.0 and I want to be able to talk with them.”

Description: The Information Sucker paints himself as a friend of the Gov 2.0 Heroes, but in reality, he’s only focused on advancing his own career.  The Information Sucker is keenly aware of the increased attention being paid to open government initiatives and wants to get in on the action without actually doing any of the work.  Viewing attribution as a weakness,  The Information Sucker makes nice with the Gov 2.0 Heroes and then sucks every last idea and product from them that he can, only to disappear and resurface months later to much fanfare because of the “new and innovative ideas” that he’s brought to his team.

Strengths: Deftly able to conceal his true motives; extreme copy and paste abilities; able to pull together entire presentations and proposals without actually needing to understand what he’s writing; excellent ability to insert latest buzzwords into his speech.

Weaknesses: Probing Questions. Because The Information Sucker’s “expertise” has been gained from a few white papers and PowerPoint presentations, his outer shell can be penetrated with follow-up questions.

Beware of the Gov 2.0 Villains – they’re lurking everywhere, sometimes concealing their identity, sometimes not even aware of their own villainous ways.  Rather than attacking and defeating these villains, we would do well to befriend and educate them.  The best way to neutralize a Gov 2.0 Villain is to turn them into a Gov 2.0 advocate.

** UPDATE: Make sure you check out Gwynne Kostin’s excellent FanGirl addendum to this post too! **

Description: Dr. Closed Mind has the ability make even the most new and innovative ideas seem like frivolous wastes of time.  He thrives on doing things his way because that’s “the way they’ve always done.” By relying on the force of inertia and his extreme stubbornness, he’s able to simultaneously frustrate his numerous adversaries as well as advance his own career.  Dr. Closed Mind is focused on checking off his task list and will aggressively squash any attempt to disrupt that routine.

 

Strengths: Able to avoid changing his routine for years on end; leverages allies in the legal and IT security departments to maintain the status quo; super-human ability to make stagnation appear to seem like laser-like focus.

Weaknesses: Transparency.  By exposing the outdated and often inefficient methods of Dr. Closed Mind to more people, you can help shine a light on the work of Dr. Closed Mind and force his leadership to ask him the often-deadly question of “why aren’t we doing it like this instead?”

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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

76 Responses to “Six Villains of Gov 2.0”

  1. MWHaviland (Mark Haviland) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Great stuff! Check out Captain Conservative and other #gov20 villains: [link to post] by @sradick (via @GovNewMedia @billschrier)

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. Stephen Chizar Says:

    The problem is the executives have built their empires without Gov 2.0 and they see it as a threat which they will resist at all costs. Instead of learning about the new technology for the good of the organization, they only want to use what is good to advance their careers. As long as those people are around, we will never see Gov 2.0. Or if it is made a requirement for their next promotion that they institute Gov 2.0 they will, but there still won't be the management support needed to make it work the way it should.

  3. MichaelNewbury (Michael Newbury) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @GovNewMedia: RT @billschrier Six villains of social media in Gov’t incl Dr. Closed Mind, Captain Conservative [link to post] by @s

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. Sradick Says:

    Thanks Kelcy – I realized how powerful that point was when I was talking to one of our VPs and he spent the entire meeting telling me how social media was just for kids, was a waste of time, and presented huge risks to the firm. However, a few weeks later, he called me back into his office after reading through some of my materials and talking to a few people, to tell me that he “had no idea what he stumbled onto and what a surprise it was to learn that we had people doing this sort of work.” He's since turned into one of our biggest supporters.

  5. Sradick Says:

    There is definitely a fear of change on the part of the senior executives, but I also think that you paint them with too broad a brush. In my experience, most of the people who are pushing the Gov 2.0/innovation concepts have been rewarded (eventually), either with promotions, increased job responsibilities, raises, awards, etc. Some executives may still be resisting, but they're increasingly finding themselves surrounded by more and more innovative thinkers.

  6. Sradick Says:

    While that's not quite as pithy of a name, I agree that this sidekick of The Silo is pretty annoying, albeit a little clueless :)

  7. Sradick Says:

    I think it depends less on the person's title or role in the organization and more on the person. For example, having a villain be someone in management who has the title but is lacking in respect, leadership, and charisma is infinitely preferred to having a villain who is a rising young leader with the respect of his/her team and who can shape the organization according to his/her views over time.

  8. Ron Mecredy ? Says:

    Its so hard to pick my favorite…thanks for the quandary.
    Have you considered a possible lucrative side venture of Gov 2.0 Manga?

  9. susandkirk (Susan Kirk) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @kevinamagee: Best barriers to Gov 2.0 post ever! RT @sradick Six Villains of Gov 2.0 [link to post] #gov2.0 #gov20 #opengov

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  10. Lemur6 (DLCI) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @dchughes: RT @geoffliving: Six Villains of Gov 2.0 [link to post] from the ever brilliant @sradick

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  11. mik0ton (Michael Norton) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @sradick Six Villains of Gov 2.0 [link to post] #yam #in #khub

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  12. susandkirk (Susan Kirk) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @kevinamagee: Best barriers to Gov 2.0 post ever! RT @sradick Six Villains of Gov 2.0 [link to post] #gov2.0

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  13. alexbea (Alex Bea) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Informative post + comic book analogy = WIN RT @sradick My latest post – “Six Villains of Gov 2.0″ [link to post] #gov20 #opengov

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  14. elle_mccann (Laurenellen McCann) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @alexbea: Informative post + comic book analogy = WIN RT @sradick My latest post – “Six Villains of Gov 2.0″ [link to post] #gov20

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  15. maddiegrant (Maddie Grant) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @sradick My latest post – “Six Villains of Gov 2.0″ [link to post] #gov20 #opengov [awesome!]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  16. Paul Day Says:

    The silo is my favorite. Got plenty of those around… And who wants to do their job?

  17. garywong_BC (Gary Wong) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Wow! I recognize all six!!! RT @sradick Six Villains of Gov 2.0 [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  18. mattloonam (mattloonam) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @ryanworking: RT @sradick Six Villains of Gov 2.0 [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

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