Tag Archives: gov20

Gov 2.0: Taking a Look Back at 2009

I didn’t write a “year in review” post last year at this time, primarily because by the time I got around to it, everyone else had written theirs and I didn’t have much else to add. This year, however, I thought I’d get a head start by writing my post a little earlier. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the Gov 2.0 milestones of this past year (click the pic) that I found to be most significant and put some context around them too.

Click for the 2009 Timeline of Gov 2.0

Click for the 2009 Timeline of Gov 2.0

If Obama’s election in November 2008 signaled the birth of Government 2.0, 2009 was the year that it learned to walk. From the Transparency and Open Government Memo to the planning of next year’s Mapping Success: Can Government 2.0 Work for You? conference, I, along with many members of the Gov 2.0 Community, have had an alternately successful and frustrating (but never boring) year. 2009 went from unbridled optimism to eager anticipation to a little dose of realism, but through it all, the community of people and the relationships that have been forged across agency lines continued to grow  stronger.

That sense of community, that sense of, “we’re all in this together,” is one of the the five Gov 2.0 trends that have really emerged in 2009.

Gov 2.0 is driven by the community – I count among my friends many of the people I’ve met at various Gov 2.0 conferences, seminars, workshops, Twitter, and the blogosphere.  These friends include people from across all agencies, across the globe, other consulting firms, and members of the media. By and large, this community really came together in 2009, working together to share their stories and  help one another out.

Gov 2.0 isn’t just for the geeks and the Gen Y’ers – Traditional stereotypes were proven wrong time and time again in 2009. Whether it’s the “old” Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff tweeting, the “conservative” Department of Justice blogging, or the “bureaucratic” General Services Administration developing a website that asks the public to solve their problems, Gov 2.0 doesn’t fall into a neat little demographic of those who do and those who don’t.

Gov 2.0 is about more than just social media – As Tim O’Reilly told me in this tweet, Gov 2.0 is about so much more than just Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.  It’s about transparency, about employee engagement, about creating new technology, about collaboration, about, well, any of the hundreds of federal, state, and local government initiatives that have been using technology this year to transform and improve the way government works.

Gov 2.0 isn’t all sunshine and butterflies – Near the end of 2009, a group of Gov 2.0 enthusiasts got together and started talking about challenges, obstacles, and risk-taking that go on every day in the government. These issues are just now starting to be talked about and shared.

Gov 2.0 is still all about the mission – Under all the tweets, blogs, mashups, and wikis, the common thread through 2009 was a focus on accomplishing the mission. The most common questions my government clients asked me this year were, “What’s the business case?  What will [insert new techie suggestion here] actually do for me?” Despite all the pitches and publicity, all of these initiatives have all been put in place to help the organization accomplish their mission, whether that’s increasing awareness, educating the public, improving intel analysis, improving efficiency, etc.

For me, 2009 brought about a LOT of opportunities, but maybe even more questions for 2010.  What will be the new DoD social media policy?  What does the future of GovLoop look like?  How will the government procure contracts in the new year?  Can state/local governments leverage the experiences of the federal government to bring change to their organizations?  I’m not sure what the answers to these questions are, but I’m looking forward to being a part of the community that discovers them in 2010.

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How to BE a Government Consultant and Use Social Media


As “Government 2.0” becomes more and more popular, especially here in the Washington area, there seem to be an increasing number of people calling themselves social media or “Gov 2.0” consultants. As such, I’ve also seen a small increase in the number of people who are only interested in hawking their wares because social media is the current buzzword and who will move on to the next buzzword as soon as social media loses its luster.  Now, consider this blog post a public service announcement for all you consultants and contractors out there (including all you Booz Allen guys too!) – I don’t want you to become the next Gov 2.0 carpetbagger.  

So here’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to let you in on the secret and tell you how you can BE a good consultant in this world and add value to the Gov 2.0 community (it’s not all that hard!):

  1. BE helpful – Always always try to provide some value. Read other people’s blog posts, wiki edits, forum questions, and tweets and help out if you can – even if it’s just sending a helpful link, providing a good point of contact, or giving a restaurant suggestion to someone in a different city. Not everything is a marketing opportunity – just try to be a helpful person whom others can rely on.  For the most part, everyone involved in Gov 2.0 is incredibly helpful to one another and we all want each other to succeed.  Those who aren’t stick out like sore thumbs.
  2. BE honest – If you don’t know something, say it. If you suddenly start promoting another organization’s wares, disclose that you have a relationship of some sort with them.  If you’re interested in conducting a marketing call, say that’s what you’re doing.  Nothing’s worse than thinking that you’re going to have a lunch with someone you met on Twitter and they lug in a PowerPoint presentation and start running their capabilities briefings.
  3. BE responsive – If someone emails you, email them back. If someone comments on your blog, comment back.  If you comment on someone else’s blog and they reply to you, continue in the conversation.  You have no idea how much people appreciate a simple, timely response to a question, until you deal with someone who isn’t.  Don’t be that guy.
  4. BE realistic – Don’t promise the world.  Don’t promise your client thousands of Twitter followers in two weeks.  Don’t say that social media is going to solve all their problems – it won’t.  Just because you’ve helped one organization use social media doesn’t mean that the next one is going to work the same way.  Each organization and each organization’s mission is different – their results in using social media will be too.
  5. BE around – Social media is all about openness and transparency and authenticity.  You have to take part in the conversation if you ever hope to influence it.  Don’t proclaim yourself a Twitter expert if you’ve been on Twitter for two weeks. Use the tools that you’re advocating your clients use.  Be active within the social media and Gov 2.0 communities, both online AND offline.  Go out and meet the people with whom you’re talking online.  Out of sight, out of mind – you have to be be around, both physically and virtually.
  6. BE passionate – Please please please, believe in what you’re selling.  Is Gov 2.0 what you do for your job or is it something you’re passionate about?  Don’t tell me – talk with me for about ten minutes and I’ll be able to tell right away.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a passionate person who cares deeply about my mission over someone with a slick Powerpoint presentation any day.
  7. BE authentic – Just be a human being, please? Talk like a human being, not a living, breathing, walking product or service offering pitch. Be able to have an entire conversation with someone and connect with them as a person.  Build a real relationship instead of a sales lead. It will be more valuable in the long run.
  8. Be knowledgeable – Know what you’re talking about and back it up. Don’t speak only in marketing-y consultant-ese. Get to know your companies strengths and weaknesses, and be honest about them.  Stay on top of current Gov 2.0 events and demonstrate your knowledge through consistent engagement.  Get to know the mission and unique processes and policies of the people you’re talking to.  Try to imagine the challenges that they’re dealing with and think about how you can help them overcome them.
  9. BE humble – You’re going to be wrong, and you’re going to mess up.  That’s just the nature of this business.  Admit your mistakes and move on.  Don’t blame someone else or make excuses – say you messed up and you’ll do better and if you’ve been all of these other things, people will forgive you.
  10. And lastly, but maybe most importantly, BE assertive – As Tom Webster points out in this fantastic post, I can tell you to BE all of these things, but unless you’ve got the internal support of your management, it’s going to be difficult to put these tips into action. Be assertive with your management team and make the business case  that there’s value in building and maintaining these human relationships instead of the traditional fire hose approach to marketing.

If you do these things, I promise you that you will BE a better consultant to the government…and BE a much more likable person too!

*Photo courtesy of Flickr user JavierPsilocybin

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Gov 2.0 – We Need to Get Past the Honeymoon Stage of Our Relationship

I was in Las Vegas this week to participate in BlogWorld 2009 with some of the industry’s biggest big-wigs in social media. I really like going to conferences like this and next week’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco because they help me escape the Gov 2.0 echo chamber that I sometimes get trapped in back in DC.  The people I meet, the presentations I hear, and the conversations that I have while at these conferences help me get a more realistic view of what’s going on with the Gov 2.0 movement.  This week’s conference was no different.  Between this week and Brian Drake’s excellent blog post, I realized that we (the “Goverati”) are still very much in the honeymoon stage of Gov 2.0.

Allow me to explain. I liken it to when you first start dating a woman and everything is going well – you talk for hours, you spend every waking moment with each other, and you talk to your friends about how great everything is going.  This goes on for a few weeks or months – it’s still new, it’s still fun, and perhaps most importantly, it’s not anything like that last awful relationship you had.  However, this is also the time when you’re ignoring the fact that she made you meatloaf the other night for dinner and you hate meatloaf but all you could say was, “I loved it honey.”  This is also the time when your buddies might start telling you that this girl is crazy-annoying, but you laugh it off and tell them that she’s the best thing that’s happened to you.  This is the time when you have a distorted view on reality because everything is so new and fun and different.  This is the stage that we find ourselves with Gov 2.0.

Gov 2.0 is still so new that we talk about it ad nauseam with anyone who will listen, it’s the greatest thing to happen to the government ever, and it’s most definitely not at all like that last command and control relationship where we didn’t have a voice and were bullied around all the time.  Not anymore, we say!  We have Government 2.0 now and everything is perfect!!  However, we’re making the same mistakes that everyone in the honeymoon stage makes – we’re writing off mistakes (and outright failures) as minor quirks, we’re ignoring logic in favor in the new girl/technology, and possibly most damaging, we’re ignoring the people who are giving us constructive criticism because they just don’t know her (Gov 2.0) like I do.

Coming out here and participating in BlogWorld showed me the next stage of our Gov 2.0 relationship.  It showed me people asking the tough questions, demanding more out of the community, and tackling some very polarizing legal issues.  People were almost unanimously friendly, but there were definitely some disagreements and debates to be had, not to mention some good-natured ribbing.  It showed me a relationship where the participants have finally started to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can be honest about them.  It showed me what Gov 2.0 can and will be if we just start admitting it to ourselves.  Yeah, Gov 2.0 is absolutely great and it’s most definitely changing government for the better.  That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect though.  There are things we can do better.  There are things we can do more of.  And there are things that we need to address before we can take that next step in our relationship.

  1. Realize that not all is perfect in the land of Gov 2.0 While we’ve had a lot of success, let’s not sweep our weaknesses under the rug.  Let’s identify what’s going wrong and talk about it.  We have showcases to talk about all of the successes – why don’t we have an event to talk about the challenges we’re facing and how to overcome them?  Oh wait – we will…
  2. Identify the skeptics and open up a dialogue with them – let’s stop talking about how great we all are amongst ourselves.  I want a conference where that CIO who continues to block access to social media talks about why they’re blocking it.  I want to hear from that Admiral explaining why he’s banned his sailors from using social media.  I want to go to an event where I can talk with the guy who decided to shut down the UGov email system and learn more about the pressures he’s facing.  I want an event, well, an event like this
  3. Hear the war stories of the people who have gone before us – Listen, I KNOW that there have been people who have been fired, reprimanded, demoted, moved to another project, and just flat-out yelled at for some of their Gov 2.0 efforts.  What happened and why?  What are the battles that people are facing?  What are the battles that have been won and lost?  I know that I’ve dealt with people yelling at me, laughing at me, and/or dismissing me for my Gov 2.0 efforts over the last three years – I’m sure there are others out there who would be able to learn from these experiences, just as I have.  Let’s talk about them

Don’t get me wrong – I love Gov 2.0 and I think we’re going to have a long and successful relationship.  I just think we’re to the point where I can tell her that I hate meatloaf without thinking she’s going to get angry with me.  If you agree, and want to help, leave a comment here, tweet this out, and tell your friends – we need the help of the community to identify those people who will tell us the hard truths that our friends won’t because they don’t want to hurt our feelings.

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Sports Can Learn a Few Things From Gov 2.0

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“Dear [fill in your favorite sports team],

You may think of me as a fan or as a ticket-holder now, but if you give me the chance, I’d gladly be a marketing specialist, brand ambassador, web developer, community organizer and data cruncher.  Oh yeah – I’ll also do all these things for free if you’d just ask.”

Joe Sports Fan

In a recent post, I discussed some of the similarities that I saw between the government’s experiences with social media and the challenges that professional sports teams are facing in diving into the world of social media.  As I thought about it some more, I figured that if these teams are facing many of the same challenges that government agency does, they can probably also take advantage of some of the same strategies that government agencies have deployed too.

As a sports fan and a government consultant, here are some of the government’s social media initiatives that I’d like to see cross over to the sports industry:

  • A closed Intranet for all of the teams in a particular league. Imagine an Intelink-like service where every MLB team’s communications staff could log in and share information with each other. There’s obviously some very heated competition among the teams, but there’s also a lot of camaraderie that already exists.  I’m not suggesting that general managers get on here and blog about player transactions or scouting strategies, but they could definitely share their ideas for promotions and community events, best practices for engaging with season ticket holders, or how they’re using social media – things that help the entire league.  With the right education and change management support, an Intranet like this could help raise the quality and consistency of communications across the league, thereby selling more tickets and making more money for everyone.
  • An Apps for Baseball (or Football, Hockey, etc.) contest. Similar to the Apps for America contests made possible by sites like data.gov, why can’t one of the sports leagues partner with the Elias Sports Bureau to open up the MASSIVE amount of sports statistics on an accessible platform and then engage the sports-loving public to create web-based, iPhone, JAVA, and other applications?
  • A Recovery.gov for a sports team –  I would love to see my favorite team open up their books to the public and say, “here’s our payroll, our ticket revenue, our marketing budget, our merchandising revenue, our property taxes – here’s everything that comes in and goes out, and oh, by the way, after all that, we still lost $3M.”  There’s a lot of mystery about what it costs to actually run a team, how much of the money is public vs. private funds, and why teams that are still shelling out millions of dollars for free agents are saying they’re losing millions of dollar per year.  The fans want answers to these questions and they want to feel as though they’re partners in the future success of the team. Open up your books and show the fans that there’s nothing to hide (unless, that is, you have something to hide). The Green Bay Packers are probably the sports industry’s leaders in this area, being a publicly-owned team, but just because other teams aren’t legally obligated to release their financials doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
  • More leadership accessibility. I want to see more Mark Cubans out there engaging with their fans.  Players like Chris Cooley and Chad Ochocinco and league officials like Brian McCarthy and Mike DiLorenzo have done a tremendous job of using social media to reach out to their fans and engage in real conversations, creating fan loyalty and ownership in the player, league, and/or franchise.  Just as leaders from across the government are getting on Twitter and blogging, why aren’t more team owners, general managers, and other front office types using these tools to talk with their fans NOT market to their fans.

There are real opportunities for the sports industry to leverage some of these same concepts and tactics that are now driving Government 2.0. Teams and leagues can use these ideas to do more than just sell more tickets, but to create a community of interested, informed, and passionate partners, developers, and brand ambassadors.  Who would have thought that an NFL or MLB team could learn a few things about communications, agility, transparency and authenticity from the federal government?

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