Tag Archives: Prof. Development

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

May 26, 2010

29 Comments

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

Continue reading...

Try Looking Outside to Solve the Problems Inside

February 9, 2010

34 Comments

Quick – who recently said this in reference to his organization’s social media efforts?

“…if our consumers are younger, and they love video games, and they have shorter attention spans, and they love interactivity, and they love social media, and everyone blogs, and everyone’s on Facebook, why wouldn’t we put ourselves right in the middle of that?”

What social media or Government 2.0 champion could have said this? Could it have been Federal CIO Vivek Kundra? Maybe Director, New Media and Citizen Engagement at GSA, Bev Godwin? Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Price Floyd?

Nope. Try Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals. In this week’s Washington Post, Leonsis discusses why the team is aggressively using social media to engage with their fans and the potential impact that social media can have on his team and on the sport. Sound familiar? Sound anything like what us in the Gov 2.0 and social media communities have been telling our bosses and clients for years now?

Leonsis goes on to say that, “what’s unique and different about us is that most organizations are managed [with the thinking], ‘We’re bricks and mortar, we’re buildings, and we have this Web operation beside us,'” Leonsis said. “We’re kind of different. We look at the Web as being our basic power plant, kind of like electricity, so the Web and communicating in this fashion is second nature to us now. It’s not like we go brochure, television, mail. It’s Web, and then everything else. It’s social media first, and everything else.”

Hmmmm…sounds like his perspective, experience, and business acumen would be a valuable addition to the Gov 2.0 conversation, don’t you think?

I recently read a fascinating article in the latest edition of Fast Company – “A Problem Solver’s Guide to Copycatting.” This article argues that instead of solving our toughest problems through brainstorming or consulting with experts, we should start looking for analogues outside our industry because someone (or some thing) has probably already solved our problem. For example (from the Fast Company article),

“In 1989, the pilots of the Exxon Valdez ran it into Bligh Reef, spilling enough oil to cover 11,000 square miles of ocean. To finish this cleanup job, you’d have to clear an area the size of Walt Disney World Resort every week for about five years. One major obstacle was that the oil and water tended to freeze together, making the oil harder to skim off. This problem defied engineers for years until a man named John Davis, who had no experience in the oil industry, solved it. In 2007, he proposed using a construction tool that vibrates cement to keep it in liquid form as it pours. Presto!”

This methodology, this thinking, that someone who has absolutely no experience with or knowledge of your organization might be able to solve a problem that your top domain experts haven’t been able to crack is a totally foreign concept to most organizations, especially those within the government. What if instead of talking with the Gov 2.0 “experts,” we started getting more people from outside of Government involved in Gov 2.0? Think about the value that Craig Newmark has brought to the Gov 2.0 discussion. Or Tim O’Reilly.

The social media community seems to have realized the value these outsider perspectives can bring – just last year I attended conferences featuring Jermaine Dupri, Brooke Burke, and Jalen Rose. This year, Gov 2.0 events like Gov 2.0 LA reached out to Hollywood to get that perspective and author/entrepreneur/professional keynoter Gary Vaynerchuk will be speaking at this year’s Gov 2.0 Expo. Getting these influencers involved as speakers is a great start, but we need to achieve more consistent engagement beyond just singular events.

What if the next Director of New Media and Web Communications for DHS was someone like Mike DiLorenzo, Director of Corporate Communications for the NHL? What if we talked with some behavior modification psychologists about the best way to change people’s behavior from one of “need to know” to “need to share?” What if we studied Native American tribes to learn more about how they build and maintain a unique culture even in the face of extreme changes?

While government may be unique, the problems we’re facing aren’t. The challenge shouldn’t be in solving them, but rather, in finding out who or what has solved them already.

Continue reading...

Here’s Your Chance to Shine: Government 2.0 Expo and Showcase

June 7, 2009

3 Comments

Have you done something to help usher in the era of Government 2.0 and want to show it off?  Have you changed the culture of your organization from one that hoards information to one that openly shares and collaborates with each other?  Are you tired of toiling in obscurity while you see the same stories about Intellipedia, the TSA blog, and GovLoop getting all the glamour and accolades (note: I think these are fantastic projects and don’t mean to diminish their value – just that they’re typically the most popular examples)?  Maybe you are bringing openness and transparency to the government at the state or local level, but think that no one cares because it’s on such a small scale?

Well, if you answered yes to any of the questions above, here’s your chance to shine and maybe even win a coveted “Govie” Award.  O’Reilly Media, Inc. and TechWeb, co-producers of the annual Web 2.0 Summit and Web 2.0 Expo events, are holding the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase, a one day event featuring government projects that leverage the Web as a platform.  The event will highlight the projects exhibiting transparency, participation and collaboration in government.  The Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase will take place September 8, 2009 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

So, how do I participate?

Submit a proposal in one of the six categories, Government as Process, Provider, Partner, Protector, Peacemaker, or as Product.  The Program Committee (full disclosure: I’m a member of the Program Committee), will review all submissions and choose four projects in each category who will give a five minute “lightning” talk about their project, followed by a panel discussion.  Of these four presentations, one will be chosen to receive a “Govie” award and will be asked to come back and speak at the invite-only Gov 2.0 Summit taking place the next day.

How do I know if my project is good enough to be selected?

You don’t.  But, the good news is that neither does the Program Committee unless they can read your proposal.  The Committee is looking for the architects, managers, leaders and catalysts of real-life Government 2.0 projects to submit proposals for this unique event.  They should represent new thinking, demonstrate the value of web 2.0 and gov 2.0 principles, and have made an impact on government and the citizens and communities it serves.  We don’t know the full range of the projects that fit into the Government 2.0 revolution, which is why we’re hoping you’ll show us what you’ve got.  These examples can be found at the state, local, federal, international, departmental, and agency levels.  We’re looking forward to being surprised, both at the scope and nature of the proposals we receive.

That’s great marketing-speak, but bottom line, what’s in it for me?

Aside from fame and fortune, you mean?  Well, how about:

  1. The chance to win a prestigious “Govie” – given only to the best example of Government 2.0 in each of the six categories.
  2. An opportunity to highlight your work, your organization, and your ideas in front of your Government 2.0 peers and other activists.
  3. Should you win a “Govie,” you’ll also be given the stage at the Gov 2.0 Summit where you can speak to some of the most influential names in social media and Government 2.0, including Tim O’Reilly, Vivek Kundra, Aneesh Chopra, and Bev Godwin.
  4. You’ll get to network and rub elbows with these same people as we will undoubtedly sample of the District’s finest drinking establishments.
  5. Validation of your hard work and long hours to realize the vision of Government 2.o.
  6. Help shape the focus of the Gov 2.0 Expo coming up in May 2010.

Good luck to all who submit proposals – I can’t wait to hear about all of the success stories out there that haven’t gotten all of the publicity, exposure, and awards.

More Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase Information

Continue reading...

“I want a Twitter for All the Various Parts of the Government”

May 3, 2009

5 Comments

At least that’s what Chris Brogan said this week at the Society for New Communications Research NewComm Forum. I have to admit that I was a little scared about what he was to going to suggest next.

I had flown out to San Francisco to give a presentation on Government 2.0 at the same conference that Chris was presenting at, and he was one of the reasons that I was really excited about attending.  I’ve been to conferences where he’s spoken before and really like his informal, tell-it-how-it-is style.

So, when Chris began his presentation, I knew that I wanted to get his take on this whole Government 2.0 meme.  Here in the DC area, we’ve got a lot of “goverati,” carpetbaggers, yellow journalists as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes people who are actually making Government 2.0 happen.  It’s sometimes hard to get out of the echo chamber.  The reason I like conferences like the NewComm Forum is precisely because I’m usually one of the few Government 2.0 folks there.  I get an opportunity to meet and interact with some of the top minds in the broader social media world and get their perspectives on what’s working and what’s not in Government 2.0.

Video Set-up: I asked Chris for his thoughts on this whole concept of Government 2.0 and what he’d like to see it become.  His first response (that I wasn’t able to get on tape) was “why isn’t the IRS on Twitter helping me do my taxes?  I want to be able to go to @IRS and ask them questions about how to fill out their forms.”  He then finished his answer with the following:

What I find refreshing about Chris’ thoughts on Government 2.0 is that he concentrates not on the tools themselves, but on being helpful, on customer service.  He advocates for asynchronous communications and for engaging with the community when and where they are, rather than trying to get more comments or web traffic.

He realizes that Government 2.0 isn’t about the tools.  It isn’t about the Whitehouse getting on Twitter, it isn’t about the GSA making friends with YouTube, and it isn’t about barcamps.  These things are fantastic, all they are a means to the end.  What really matters is that people can now ask a question of the EPA at 11:00 at night and get a response back within an hour.  Or that people can now talk directly to their Congressman.  Or that local bloggers in other nations can now provide their readership with accurate information because they’re embedded directly with the Department of State’s traveling press corps.

So yeah, I agree with Chris that the government should always keep the end goal of being helpful to the public in mind.  If that means getting every Government agency department and agency tweeting, that’s ok by me, as long as they’re doing it to be helpful and not to check a box, or to market themselves, or to help someone leave behind some sort of legacy.

Use social media but remember why you’re using it.

Continue reading...