Tag Archives: web 2.0

What’s Your Government 2.0 Personality Type?

Over the last few years between starting the social media practice at Booz Allen and getting involved with the broader Government 2.0 community, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a ton of different people, all with different motivations, frustrations, and aspirations.  While sitting through seemingly endless hours on my flight back from Hawaii, I got to thinking about these different Government 2.0 personalities, and attempted to categorize them here below.

Edgerider – You are always looking for the latest and the greatest Internet meme, idea, and initiative.  You’re an early-adopter of all things technology and were at the forefront of the email, Internet, and personal computer waves.  You own an iPhone and either already have, or are eagerly anticipating buying a new Netbook.  You’re a big Government 2.0 champion now, but will move on to some other shiny new thing when the Government 2.0 meme inevitably bores you.

Innovator – You’re a tinkerer who can’t stand seeing an opportunity go to waste.  You’re a workaholic not because you love your job, but because you see a small chance to make a difference and you always take that chance – the problem is that you have trouble letting opportunities pass by.  You tend to suffer from both FOMO and HOLI.  You may not have been the first one in your office who recognized the potential of Government 2.0, but you were the first one to actually do something about it.

Rockstar – You are the loudest voice in the room.  You’re the one who happily volunteers to give the Government 2.0 briefing.  You’re the first one to raise your hand and challenge the person who’s speaking at a conference.  You’re loud and you’re confident, but more importantly, you’re incredibly knowledgeable.  However, you are also a little ADD – you tend to get involved with a LOT of different initiatives without diving too deep into any particular one.

Risk-taker – You thrive on pushing the envelope and rocking the boat.  The status quo is boring to you, and as such, you’re always looking for opportunities to make things better.  You’ve most likely been in your current position for more than a year and have built up a certain amount of trust among your colleagues.  You think getting reprimanded for something at work is just part of the job and not necessarily a bad thing.  Your Government 2.0 involvement is predicated on you “being the change” whether you should be or not.  You’re still learning that change isn’t always the right answer.

Salesman – Rather than jumping right into the Government 2.0 movement, you bided your time and did a lot of reading and thinking.  You are deliberate and entrepreneurial and have developed a piece of software, a platform, or a website that is meant to help the government, but is ultimately meant to make you or your organization money.  You would do well to shift more of your energy away from selling your product and instead focus more on providing value to the community.

Realist – You’ve been there, done that.  You’re more than likely older than most of the other Government 2.0 people out there.  You understand the challenges that the government is facing, and you recognize that Government 2.0 isn’t going to happen overnight.  While this realism is needed, it also gets you labeled as too conservative and pessimistic.  You don’t get too excited, nor do you get too down – you’re the steady hand that is more than likely managing a Risk-taker or an Innovator.

Laborer – You are the “do-er.”  You’re the foot soldier who’s drafting the social media policies, who’s gardening the internal wiki, and who’s developing the briefings, talking points, and speeches for the Rockstars.  You aren’t interested in being a member of the Goverati and would rather blend into the background.  You are probably well-respected for the Government 2.0 work that you do, but not many people know about it.  While arguably the most important group of people behind Government 2.0, you receive little to no fanfare.

Skeptic – “Why the hell are you spending so much time on Twitter and Facebook when you could be doing real work?”  You don’t see the real business value to social media, and would prefer that your staff stick to the mission-related activities.  You’re conservative and would rather just do your job and go home.  You don’t like change, and you’re probably the one who’s pushing to see metrics and ROI of social media.  You’re not necessarily opposed to social media, but you just don’t see the value yet.  Because of this, you’ve become an adversary to the Risk-takers, Innovators, and Rockstars, but you could offer real value in a Devil’s Advocate-type of role.

Thinker – You’re not on Twitter, nor do you maintain a blog.  However, you ask a ton of questions and do a lot of reading about social media and Government 2.0.  You look up to the Rockstars and the Innovators, but your conservative and private nature keep you from putting yourself “out there.”  You see the value of Government 2.0, but prefer to deal in the theoretical, rather than actually doing it.  You have a job totally unrelated to social media, but want to be involved, as long as it’s on the periphery.

Techie – You’re an IT developer, web programmer, enterprise architect – some sort of IT guy/girl.  You’re an avid World of Warcraft player, and have been using forums and online bulletin boards for more than a decade.  You know the difference between UNIX and Linux, and easily get frustrated when people ask for your help with their computer.  You’re responsible for actually creating the software, platforms, and websites that the Rockstars use, that the Innovators dream up, that the Salesman plugs, and that the Skeptic told you was a waste of time.  You wish you had more say in the strategic development of Government 2.0, but aren’t sure how to get involved at that level.

Opportunist – You got involved with Government 2.0 because you saw an opportunity to make money, enhance your career, or build your business.  That’s your first and primary goal – if you do something good for the government too, that’s great, but if you do something good for you, that’s even better.  Your motivation is on using Government 2.0, not in being a part of Government 2.0.  You are probably one of the most active and vocal people in your organization and in the Government 2.0 community, but because of your motivations, you also present some of the biggest risks.  You and the Skeptic do NOT get along.

Bystander – You have no interest in Government 2.0 or social media.  You’re happy coming to work, doing your job, and going home.  You value your work/life balance, and aren’t interested in anything that infringes on that.  You’re not opposed to Government 2.0 – you might even see the value in it at a holistic level – you’re just not interested in getting involved.

The following personality types were suggested by some of the Rockstars, Innovators, Edgeriders, etc. found in the Comments section.

Networker – You believe in information sharing and connecting people to one another.  You are the government version of Gladwell’s Connector.   Networkers have extended contact lists and actively share information — often through listservs, email, and presentations, oftentimes not even realizing that you’re living Government 2.0.  While probably less tech-savvy than the others on this list, you see the potential of Gov 2.0 and dream of the time when everyone will be a Networker without even trying.

Ambassador – You’re a Rockstar at the core, but you realize that one of the tenets of Government 2.0 requires flexibility.  Ambassadors do whatever it takes to advance the cause, whether that means talking code with a Techie debating the merits of social media with a skeptic or trying to get your Edgerider friend to slow down long enough to give the Laborer time to put something in place.  Depending on who you’re talking to, you can fill all, or none, of these roles.

What’s your Government 2.0 personality?  Would you categorize yourself as one of the above or would you create another category?

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Why Social Media is Scary

As one of my company’s social media leads, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a wide range of people about social media.  From our most senior VPs to senior executives within the government to our summer interns, every group has their own set of questions, concerns, and pre-conceived notions about social media and what it means for them.  Over time though, I’ve realized that they all one thing in common.  They could all agree on one thing.

Social media is scary.

Let me tell you why.  Businesses and our government are structured in a very hierarchical way – everyone is part of an org chart, everyone has a boss, and everyone is working to get to the next level.  Why?  Because inevitably, the next level brings more pay, more power, more respect, and more influence.  In the current organizational structure, everyone’s role is nicely identified on the org chart and with that, there is a structured way to act.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever said or have been told something like, “you can’t contact him directly – get in touch with your manager first,” or “draft an email for me to send to him,” or even better, “talk to “Public Affairs and Legal to get that approved before sending it out.”

The problem with this structure is that social media renders these traditional roles and responsibilities obsolete.  It introduces unpredictability and opportunity, unauthorized emails and tremendous insights, inappropriate language and humor.  Social media gives everyone a voice, whether they want it or not.

That’s a scary concept.

  • For junior employees – “Yeah, that’s great that I can start a blog that everyone in the organization can read, but what will I say?  What if my grammar is wrong or I spell something wrong – will people think I can’t write?  What if I disagree with something that my manager says?  What if I write too much and my boss wonders why I wasn’t working?  I don’t know – I’ll have to really think about it.”
  • For developers, programmers and other IT staff – “Ummm, I became an IT programmer because I hate people.  I don’t like speaking out, and really enjoy just coding and sticking to myself.  Now, you’re making me blog about my work?  I have to post my code to a wiki?  But, I can’t – it’s not ready for prime time yet.  I can’t just post draft content out there – let me get my manager to review this first.”
  • For managers – “So, how much time is my staff going to be spending blogging/reading blogs rather than doing actual work?  If my staff have questions about their project, their career, or their work environment, I want them coming to me, not blogging about it for the whole world to see.  I’ve got an MBA and have been with the organization for five years – why would I put my work out there for people to change and mess up?”
  • For senior leadership – “What happens when people start using these platforms to just complain about everything?  Why would I want to give everyone a place to whine about every little thing that’s bothering them?  I can’t possibly keep up with every comment, question, and suggestion that goes up – I don’t have the time to do that!”

At the heart of all these questions is an underlying fear of the unexpected. People now have a voice, a freedom to say what they want and talk to whomever they want.

In the traditional business culture of org charts, everyone is relegated to their role and everyone lives by that – it is very easy (and fits nicely onto a PowerPoint slide).  Before we had social media at my organization, if we got an email from someone we didn’t know, all we had to go on was their directory listing – “ohhh, I just got an email from one of our Principals – I’ll have to ask my manager if it’s ok to respond directly to them or not.”  Now, I can click on anyone’s name and see not only their entire bio and a picture, but also their entire history of contributed intellectual capital(IC).  I can see their blog postings, their wiki edits, their bookmarks, and their skillset.  I’ve gotten this a lot lately as people within my organization have tried to say that they’re social media “experts” yet I can click on their name and find out they haven’t blogged, they’ve made one wiki edit, and they’ve only logged into our social media platform once.  Really?  You’re a social media “expert?”  Thanks, but I’ll pass and contact the guy in San Diego who has been editing the wiki like a fiend, adding great IC on social media.

Social media allows people to easily subvert the traditional organizational hierarchy.  Whereas that title or degree that followed your name used to be all the authority you needed, you’re now being judged by what, if anything, you’ve contributed.  I’ve run into quite a few senior PhDs who turned out to be brilliant and just as many who left me asking how they got through undergrad – I now have more information at my disposal to make my own determination before I ever even meet them.  This transparency scares people because they’re now forced to show their skills and demonstrate their expertise.

Social media gives employees an unprecedented ability to use their voice to gain credibility, influence, and power within the organization – for better or for worse.  Junior employees can quickly become valued and respected or suspended and reprimanded members of the organization because they now have a voice.  Middle managers can lose their power and credibility if they don’t use their voice.  Senior leaders can lose total control of their organization if they don’t listen to these voices.

No matter what level you’re at, social media can be very scary.  On the other hand, it can be an incredible opportunity.  Will you face your fears and take advantage of the opportunity or hide from the fear it instills?

*Image Courtesy of Flickr user Ack Ook*

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My Social Media Resolutions for 2009

The Internet is filled with end of year reviews, highlight articles, and wrap-ups. Predictions for what will and won’t happen in 2009 are also a popular topic for bloggers this time of year. There’s plenty of nostalgia and speculation out there already – I don’t know how much I would add that hasn’t already been said. Instead, I’ll focus this post on something that I can control – my social media resolutions for 2009.

The parameters of these resolutions are simple – I have to be in total control of whether they happen or do not happen, they are realistic, and they’re somehow related to the work I do with social media.

  1. Blog more often – I know, I know, this is always on everyone’s social media “to-do” list. However, I actually mean it (and yes, I know everyone says that too).  When I started this blog back in October, I had one goal – to give me an external “home base” from which I could become a part of the social media and government conversation.  My goal for 2009 is to build on this humble base and collaborate with all of you in bringing social media to our government.
  2. Focus attention on things other than social media – As Andrea Baker and I have discussed before, I suffer from the fear of missing out.  There are SO many things I want to read, so many blogs I want to comment on, so many initiatives that I want to take on – I have to realize that I can’t (and shouldn’t) try to do it all.  I need to do a better job at doing what I can when I can, while still taking some time to go spend time with my family, go to the gym, and do things outside of work.
  3. Re-read the ClueTrain Manifesto – Whenever I feel overwhelmed or discouraged, I find myself going back to the 95 theses at the start of this book to get new inspiration for what it is that we do.  Business and government are changing before our very eyes – despite the social media world that I find myself caught up in, I realize that I’m still an early adopter.  I’m riding the wave of something entirely new that is fundamentally changing the way our government operates.
  4. Spend at least one hour each day reading about social media – I’m not sure when it happened, but reading, whether it’s blogs, books, newspapers, etc., became the first thing that got dropped when we all got too busy.  In 2009, I’m going to move reading back up my priority list and start dedicating time each day to my Google Reader, my stack of unread books, magazines, and Twitter stream.
  5. Turn more of my virtual connections into real-life ones – Om Malik had it right – Twitter followers aren’t really friends.  Following someone on Twitter or commenting on their blog doesn’t make you friends with someone.  I think we lose sight of that sometimes and forget that actually meeting people in person really helps develop and maintain that relationship.  In 2008, I’ve worked to develop “virtual” relationships with plenty of people from both the social media and government worlds, but in 2009, I hope to turn these connections from simple @’s, retweets, and comments to lunches, meetings, and phone calls.
  6. Use email less (internally) – One thing I’ve realized is that if I keep answering people’s emails, people will continue to send them to me, even if I explicitly tell them that they’re more likely to get a hold of me by posting their question/comment to my internal blog, contact me on Yammer, use my internal wiki page, etc.  I want to be the leader within my organization in getting folks to use email less and our internal collaboration platforms more.
  7. Proactively reach out to more senior leaders in my organization to teach them about social media – One of the biggest challenges that I’ve had in gaining buy-in for our internal social media efforts is that senior leaders often don’t understand how a blog will help them in their day to day life.  In 2009, I want to do more to illustrate the “What’s in it for me” to our everyone at my company, especially our managers.

I’m curious to hear what your social media resolutions are. Remember that you have to be in control of making them happen, they’re realistic, and that they’re related to the work you do with social media. Good luck!

*Image courtesy of Flickr user xmascarol

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Social Media Isn’t Always the Answer

As one of Booz Allen’s social media leads, I’m thrilled to see more and more of my government clients starting to ask questions about social media and if/how it might help them.  I love logging into Twitter and seeing so many different conversations centered around Government 2.0.  I love thinking about the potential that social media has in fundamentally changing the way our government operates.  I also love telling my clients that they’re not ready for social media.

Let me explain.

I’ve seen Intellipedia, TSA’s Evolution of Security blog, DoDLive, the DoD’s Blogger’s Roundtable, FEMA’s YouTube channel, GovLoop, and many other examples of “Government 2.0.”  I’ve also seen plenty of failed blogs, dormant wikis, and other failed attempts at using social media.  The reasons for failed social media range from the obvious (ghostwriting a blog and not allowing comments) to the not so obvious (middle managers not allowing wiki contributions without first getting them approved).  However, these are simply symptoms of a larger issue at work.

Here’s the thing – unless your organization is ready for transparency and authenticity, and has instilled a culture of sharing, you’re going to have a lot of trouble successfully spreading social media.  This is where I often tell my clients to take a step back from the tools of social media and focus more on the processes of social media.  I compare this type of thinking to a football team that goes out and drafts really talented receivers, but stick them into an offense that’s focused on running the ball.  The receivers (social media) end up failing not necessarily because they’re bad, they end up failing because they were placed into an offense (the organizational culture) that wasn’t optimized for them.

You see, social media isn’t about the technology – it’s about what the technology enables.  And even if your organization is ready for the tools, it may very well not be ready for what those tools will bring.  Before diving into the world of social media, take a step back and see if your organizational culture and internal processes will support what social media will enable.

  1. Are employees discouraged from contacting people outside of their chain of command?
  2. Are employees discouraged from challenging authority?
  3. Is risk-taking rewarded or punished?
  4. Are employees rewarded for collaborating with other colleagues or for authoring/producing original work?
  5. Do your employees have regular access to the Intranet?
  6. Does your leadership value the feedback of employees?
  7. Are employees prohibited from speaking externally without prior permission?
  8. Is the contribution and sharing of intellectual capital part of the employees’ regular routine?
  9. What’s more valued, entrepreneurship or following orders?
  10. Do employees derive more value from networking with colleagues or from using the Intranet?

Asking these (and there are many more – this is just a sampling) questions will help your organization (offense) be prepared for what social media (receivers) will enable.

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