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My Gov 2.0 Heroes

Photo courtesy of GovFresh

Here on Gov 2.0 Heroes Day, I’m supposed to write a post that tells you who my Gov 2.0 Heroes are, why they inspire me, and what others should know about their work.  Now, instead of highlighting the Gov 2.0 folks everyone already knows, I’d like to take this opportunity to instead talk about the heroes who have inspired me to get involved with the Gov 2.0 community, the people who have helped me in my career, the people who made me believe that openness, transparency, and collaboration in government could be a reality.

Without the following people, I can say that I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post, working in my current position, or even living where I am today.  So, thank you to my Gov 2.0 Heroes:

Don Burke/Sean Dennehy

December 2006 – that’s when I read “Open-Source Spying” by Clive Thompson.  That’s what started it all for me.  When I logged into Intelink, and I saw that the U.S. Intelligence Community was using blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and other social media tools to collect and analyze national intelligence, that was it – game, set, match.  I was hooked.  My world was flipped upside down – not only could social media be used in the government, it could be used effectively AND securely for mission-critical purposes?  I was fascinated, intrigued, excited, and most of all, eager to learn more.  That’s when I first met Don and Sean – two of the founders of the Gov 2.0 exemplar, Intellipedia.  They were Gov 2.0 before there was a Gov 2.0.  They helped lay the foundation for where we are today.  Intellipedia didn’t happen because it was “cool,” or because of some directive, or because everyone else was doing it.  It happened because some passionate people truly believed that openness, transparency, sharing, and collaboration would truly help improve them do their jobs better. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve quoted them, used them as a case study, or cited them as a best practice, but I can tell you that I haven’t thanked them enough for all they’ve done.

Gary Vaynerchuk

The first time I saw Gary speak in person was at BlogWorld in October 2008.  His keynote that day is something that I’ll always remember – not because he said anything totally revolutionary, but because of his obvious passion and self-confidence.  Before I went to this conference, I was feeling a little battered and bruised because I wasn’t making the progress that I had hoped with getting Booz Allen more involved with social media.  I was frustrated, I was discouraged, and I was tired.  But when I heard Gary speak, I got a new energy – I realized that to really make a difference, to really change the way things were done, I had to commit 100% to what I was doing.  Effecting change wasn’t going to happen overnight and it wasn’t going to happen from 9-5.  I realized that I had to hustle and I had to absolutely kill it every hour of every day.  I realized that the technology and the work didn’t mean anything unless I had a community, unless I connected to PEOPLE.  Gary showed me that understanding technology is great, but loving people is awesome.

Barack Obama

I can’t forget our current President – under his watch, “Gov 2.0” became something.  More than just some interesting success stories, Gov 2.0 became an initiative, an industry, an era.  From his revolutionary campaign to his first memo while in office to the Open Government Directive, President Obama has moved Government 2.0 out from the domain of the rogue change agents to the mainstream.  It’s due in large part to this administration’s commitment to openness and transparency, that we even have Gov 2.0 heroes today.  Without the top cover that the White House has provided, instead of Gov 2.0 Heroes Day, we may very well be celebrating Gov 2.0 Martyrs Day.

Those are my Gov 2.0 Heroes – who are yours?

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At the Gov 2.0 Expo – Who’s Making You Successful?

Last week, I participated in Tim O’Reilly’s Gov 2.0 Expo held here in Washington, DC and I was honored to be a member of the Program Committee for this event as well as last year’s Expo Showcase and Summit.  With each and every one of these events, I always looking forward to meeting and learning from the Gov 2.0 rockstars – Linda Cureton, Chris Rasmussen, Steve Ressler, Clay Johnson, Macon Phillips, Mary Davie, and so many others – people who have helped pave the way for conferences like this. Take a look at this speaker list and take a guess at where this movement would be without them. I think I get smarter just through osmosis when I’m talking with these folks! Kudos to Tim, Laurel, Mark, Suzanne, Jessica, Alex, and the rest of the O’Reilly team for pulling together another great event.

I'm pretty sure this image is going to be on everyone's Gov 2.0 Expo posts

As I did last year following the Summit, instead of doing a summary post of all that was Gov 2.0 Expo 2010 (I couldn’t possibly do any better than Alex’s fantastic wrap-up post here anyway), I’ll take a more focused view and discuss one issue that really struck me.

Last year, I said I wanted to hear more about the processes behind the success stories.  To learn more about the failures in Gov 2.0.  I think we started to accomplish that this year – the many panel presentations and workshops seemed more conversational and attendees seemed more willing to ask questions.  I heard a lot more discussion about how the speakers handled difficult situations, how they worked with legal, and how they got senior leadership buy-in. While there’s still a need to hear more about the failures of Gov 2.0, I think those discussions are probably more likely to occur in the hallways than on the stage.

What really got my attention as I sat listening to visionary leaders like Todd Park, Linda Cureton, and Jeffrey Sorenson was this post by Robert Shedd – just who makes these people successful?  That’s the question that I started to get more and more curious about as the Expo continued. Who are the people behind these leaders?  Who are the people back at the office making sure the social networks are growing?  Who are the people responsible for implementing these grand programs?  Who are the people telling these leaders they’re wrong?  Who are the people coming up with all of these ideas?  That’s why I loved when Alex Ross told the story of Katie Dowd, Katie Stanton, and Caitlin Klevorick at the State Department (fast forward to the 2:00 minute mark of this clip) who came up with the idea for the Haiti Red Cross text messaging campaign. While Alec was the one speaking and getting the credit, he realized that it wasn’t about him or his ideas – it was about the people actually making these things happen.

As Shedd mentions in his post,

“In much the same way as you need to train yourself to recognize the market ‘pains’ that product opportunities create, you need to train yourself to note who you work best with, what personalities are most compatible.”

For me, any and all success that I or my firm has had can be traced back to the work of my team.  Sure, I may be the one on the stage, but I’m generally not the one on the ground day after day working with the client.  I’m writing blogs – they’re trying to explain Twitter to a three-star general.  I’m speaking at events – they’re trying to do more work while still staying under budget.  That’s why I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some of the other Booz Allen folks you may have met at the Expo, but whom you might not know well…yet.

  • Thank you Jacque Brown for never being afraid to tell me when I’m wrong or when I’m being a real dumbass.
  • Thank you Matt Bado for always stepping up to handle things when I’m out of the office
  • Thank you Michael Dumlao for being the right side of my brain – everything you create always looks fantastic
  • Thank you Tim Lisko for being the social media conservative who also understands the benefits
  • Thank you Grant McLaughlin for always believing in me and providing me the top cover that I need to make things happen, even when it sometimes puts you in a tough spot
  • Thank you Walton Smith for always being open and collaborative, regardless of any internal politics that may exist
  • Thank you Tracy Johnson for being able to take some of my crazy abstract ideas and figuring out ways to make them work
  • Thank you to the many many others back at my company who have helped turn an idea into a true program

Please take this opportunity to go back to your blog and write a post on who makes you successful.  Highlight the work of someone who works with you, someone who has helped get you to where you are today.  Give them the attention and recognition that they deserve and leave a comment here with a link to your post.  Who has helped you turn an idea into a successful program?

*Photo courtesy of James Duncan

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Will I See You at the Gov 2.0 Expo?

 

Download our Gov 2.0 Capabilities Brochure

I’ll be at the Gov 2.0 Expo this week and I’m hoping that I’ll see you either there, or at one of the happy hours/tweet-ups that will surely be occurring.  If you’re the least bit interested in social media or the future of our government, I’d highly encourage you to register and come down for at least a few sessions. There are more than a hundred GREAT sessions taking place, but if you can’t get to all of them, consider participating in one of these ten hidden gems too.

If you are able to make it down to the Convention Center, make sure you stop by the Booz Allen booth on the Expo floor and say hello to me or to one of the many members of our team who will be attending the Expo as well.  Booz Allen is proud to be one of the Platinum Sponsors and I’m one of the members of the Program Committee – needless to say, everyone here at my firm believes very strongly in the principles of Gov 2.0 and has for some time now.  From our work with the Military Health System to U.S. Pacific Command’s All-Partners Access Network (APAN), Booz Allen has long advocated the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration with all of our clients.

Grant McLaughlin and Walton Smith, two of our Principals, recently gave a short preview of what they will be discussing at the “Innovations in Gov 2.0” session on Wednesday.

Here are some of the projects we’ll be highlighting over the next three days:

Military Health System (MHS)

To strengthen relationships with its nine million beneficiaries and numerous stakeholder communities, the Department of Defense Military Health System (MHS) partnered with Booz Allen Hamilton to leverage social media (MHS Social Media Hub) to help MHS address service members’ healthcare concerns, collaborate with stakeholders, support combat operations, and enhance its capacity to reach and influence diverse audiences.  If you’re interested in learning more about our work with MHS, find Don Jones at the Expo or read more here.

U.S. Pacific Command All-Partners Access Network (APAN)

Booz Allen is working with PACOM to create APAN, a secure platform to foster collaboration and communication between government agencies, international partners, and non-government agencies.  The U.S. Pacifc Command (PACOM) operates in the Pacifc Rim with numerous actors (military, civilian, government, non-government) who must all cooperate in crisis and disaster response situations, joint exercises with foreign militaries and other events where open information flow is essential to success.  APAN has file sharing applications, wikis, blogs and calendaring tools to coordinate schedules. The system also supports mobile applications and integrates public social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as sophisticated geospatial systems, such as Open Street, to create detailed maps of damaged areas. The system is designed to handle extremely secure communications, while also interacting with  the general public and disaster relief workers  and organizations. If you’re interested in learning more about APAN, talk to Walton Smith at the Expo or learn more on Bill Ives’ blog here.

U.S. Navy Chief of Information Office (CHINFO)

Booz Allen partnered with the Navy’s Emerging Media Directorate within CHINFO to develop a strategy for providing guidance to all Navy Commands on how to successfully integrate social media into their Public Affairs activities. We worked closely with the Navy Office of the Chief of Information (CHINFO) Emerging Media & Integration Team to develop a plan to:

  • Integrate and optimize CHINFO’s use of social media as engagement tactic
  • Achieve greater understanding of the use of social media among 300+ Public Affairs Officers
  • Foster and align use of social media by commands and commanders (400,000+ Active Duty & Reserve personnel)
  • Achieve recognition for the Navy as a military/government leader in social media

To learn more about what the Navy’s doing with social media, check out the Navy’s social media directory and SlideShare account. Or find Commander Scott McIlnay or Tracy Johnson at the Expo.

DHS First Responders Communities of Practice

Booz Allen is working with the DHS Science & Technology Directorate to build and manage the DHS First Responders Community of Practice – a platform that serves the nation’s 2.8 million emergency first responders (e.g., fire, emergency management, law enforcement). Launched in December 2009, the First Responders CoP is designed to decrease duplicate efforts across the various first responder communities and disciplines.  Users can connect with other first responders, create and join communities, create, share and edit documents, blogs, and discussions.  In addition, users can add “expertise tags” which allow them to easily find someone with specific expertise and view and connect to other users with similar expertise.

To learn more, make sure you attend Jose Vazquez’s presentation on Tuesday evening, or find Alexis Fabbri or Walton Smith on the Expo floor.

Meet our People

Stop by booth 309 (I think) to talk with our experts on privacy, cybersecurity, social media, Enterprise 2.0, identity and more.  Make sure that you follow all of our Booz Allen attendees on Twitter too!

Want to Work for Booz Allen?

Make sure you stop by our booth and find Annie Chae (@anniechae), one of our lead recruiters and one of my favorite people.  She’ll be able to answer all your questions about working for us.

Even if you have no interest in the work that we’re doing, make sure check out the full program schedule and try to come by and get to know some of the people who are driving this transformation in the way our government operates.

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What Kind of Impact Has Social Media Had on Your Organization?

I’ve been in many meetings with senior executives where the topic has turned to social media, and sooner or later, THE question comes up –

“So, explain to me again why we should be playing around with [insert your social media tool of choice here]?  What’s the ROI of doing this?  I just don’t see how talking about what you ate for dinner on your ‘blog’ is going to help us accomplish the mission.”

Now, at this point, I’m usually fighting an internal battle between jamming a pencil in my eye or resisting the urge to shake the executives and yell, “why don’t you understand the benefits of open collaboration and communication??!!!”

Granted, the discussion doesn’t usually devolve to that level (but imagine how much more fun meetings would be if they did), but I’ve spoken to a number of people in the Gov 2.0 community who have experienced similar frustrations.  While there’s no shortage of resources for how to measure the ROI of social media, but unlike commercial companies, our government doesn’t use social media to make money or to sell products.  One can’t measure the value of using social media in a government agency in sales or revenue.  How do you measure the value of transparency?  How do you measure the value of open collaboration?  And even if you could, how do you make the case that transparency is worth the investment?

As Katie Paine says in Jason Falls’ excellent post on this topic, “Ultimately, the key question to ask when measuring engagement is, ‘Are we getting what we want out of the conversation?'”

So, are government agencies getting what they want out of the conversations?

That’s why Booz Allen Hamilton has teamed up with GovLoop to conduct an investigation into the usage of social media by our government at the federal, state, and local levels. We want to identify and assess the impact that the use of social media has had on efficiency, morale, budgets, outreach, internal communications, leadership effectiveness and other results.

To that end, we are conducting a survey of GovLoop members (survey is only open to members of GovLoop, so if you haven’t joined yet, this is a good reason to do so!) to get their input on what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why. The results of this survey will be published in a report and (hopefully) shared later this month at the Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington, DC.

For each survey respondent, GovLoop will also make a donation to the Social Media Club – Education Connection to further the development of social media education at our country’s colleges and universities.

If you’re a member of GovLoop, please take the survey and help us identify what types of benefits (if any) you and your organization are seeing from social media.

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