Getting Under the Skin of Government 2.0 - Issues, Insights and Implications

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Presented to the New Media Group, Victorian Government (Melbourne, March 2010), by Martin Stewart-Weeks, Director, Public Sector (Asia-Pacific), Internet Business Solutions Group

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  • E-Government = Hub & Spoke Government collected all information and resented back to citizens in the format government thought best Ubiquitous = mobile (VPN) expanded access to the e-government solution put forward by government Virtual in game changing Government is only one of many nodes on the information / solutions network. Citizen / Citizen, Citizen / Government/ citizen. Paul Baran’s Theory of Distributed Networks…the World of “Connectedness Natural science: Spider Web Agricultural science: Fishing Net
  • In his thirty-first article for HBR, Peter F. Drucker argues that what underlies the current malaise of so many large and successful organizations worldwide is that their theory of the business no longer works. The story is a familiar one: a company that was a superstar only yesterday finds itself stagnating and frustrated, in trouble and, often, in a seemingly unmanageable crisis. The root cause of nearly every one of these crises is not that things are being done poorly. It is not even that the wrong things are being done. Indeed, in most cases, the right things are being done--but fruitlessly. What accounts for this apparent paradox? The assumptions on which the organization has been built and is being run no longer fit reality. These are the assumptions that shape any organization's behavior, dictate its decisions about what to do and what not to do, and define what an organization considers meaningful results. These assumptions are what Drucker calls a company's theory of the business. http ://hbr.org/product/the-theory-of-the-business-hbr-org/an/94506-PDF-ENG?Ntt=Peter+Drucker&Nao=20 It demands getting truthful answers on four key points; • What assumptions are we making about (1) the environment, (2) our mission and (3) the core competencies that we need? • Do the assumptions in all three areas fit each other? • Is the theory of the business known and understood by everybody? • Is the theory tested constantly - and altered if necessary? Even if your answers are four resounding cries of Yes!, the theory of the business won’t last forever. Drucker was fully aware that change is inevitable, like it or not: ‘A theory of the business always becomes obsolete when an organisation attains its original objectives’. That’s why he advised use of ‘abandonment’ - meaning that every three years you should challenge every product, service, policy and distribution channel with the question, ‘If we were not in it already, would we be going into it now?’ - the self-same question that led to the revolution at GE. But Drucker adds three more queries: • Why didn’t this work, even though it looked so promising when we went into it five years ago? • Is it because we made a mistake? • Is it because we did the wrong things? • Or is it because the right things didn’t work? Note the simplicity of the questions – Drucker believed in making himself understood. He also insisted that preventing collapse required studying the customers - and, very important, the non-customers: ‘The first signs of fundamental change rarely appear within one’s own organisation or among one’s own customers’. http://www.thinkingmanagers.com/management/drucker
  • Trying to support and ‘scale up’ local action centrally can undermine this rootedness and take away from what makes localism successful in the first place … government action alone isn’t enough: impact depends on the knowledge, commitment and engagement of citizens At the heart of this are the limits to the traditional ‘deficit model’ of public services that undervalues the hidden resources of service users (today’s challenges)…have two factors in common: uncertainty as to what works best on the ground; and the requirement for deep level of personal commitment and collective action. … make better use of local knowledge, assets and infrastructure…such assets are almost invariably unknown or beyond the reach of approaches designed and developed from the centre. The ingenuity and local knowledge of communities is a powerful national asset Genuinely letting go of control is difficult when accountability is seen to lie with politicians and central government departments This questions the assumption that localism is in effect a testing-ground for ideas that can subsequently be scaled up at a national level, a kind of R&D lab for public sector practice. It means government focusing less on codifying practice and pushing ideas out from the centre and more on finding new ways to tap into the energies, insights and existing networks in local communities. This different approach to scaling – supporting mass innovation rather than stretching particular solutions – questions the efficiency of so-called ‘economies of scale’ … how to stimulate and support local responses to big problems, not what these solutions might or should be. This requires a different type of policy making – a much greater sharing of responsibility between the state, communities and citizens to determine what works and to deliver results. Advances in digital communication technologies and the tends towards a more distributed production in other parts of the economy provide an opportunity for this approach to be much more widespread.
  • Getting Under the Skin of Government 2.0 - Issues, Insights and Implications

    1. 1. Getting Under the Skin of Government 2.0 - Issues, Insights and Implications New Media Group, Victorian Government (Melbourne, March 2010) Martin Stewart-Weeks, Director, Public Sector (Asia-Pacific), Internet Business Solutions Group, [email_address]
    2. 3. Five knotty questions… <ul><li>How do you shift culture and manage change rather than focus just on the technologies? </li></ul><ul><li>What strategies can be employed to shift the mind set of Ministers and their advisers from its present emphasis on controlling and moderating web 2 technologies to an acceptance of its risks along with its advantages? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we get business units to make the RIGHT technology choice rather than the latest/most convenient/ buzz wordiest choice </li></ul><ul><li>How do public servants handle the conflict of needing to be both open and controlled when interacting in web 2.0 spaces? </li></ul><ul><li>Should government build, administer and maintain collaborative/interactive spaces such as forums (with the associated financial burden) or should we be one of many voices on websites with an established audience in order to gather feedback where the people are (depending on who we're targeting)?   </li></ul>
    3. 4. And five more… <ul><li>What data should be kept and what discarded? Web 2.0 tools have the capacity to generate huge volumes of data, much of it irrelevant to statutory decision making or policy development. How do we determine what must be registered on the public record? </li></ul><ul><li>How is web 2.0 going to change the work of public servants who are used to developing policy and delivering programs with carefully managed stakeholder engagement and formal consultation processes? Are their emerging examples? </li></ul><ul><li>As web 2.0 / gov 2.0 becomes standard to public service delivery, how do we ensure those not socially or economically 'plugged in' do not get overlooked? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the trend toward centralisation in IT delivery make sense and does that maximise the benefits in terms of cost, coordination and capacity to make it easier to share data? </li></ul><ul><li>What IT purchasing framework should we be adopting across departments and agencies to best manage web 2.0? Or will we all be in the cloud in five years and it doesn't matter? </li></ul>
    4. 5. A starting point? Paul Baran’s Theory of Distributed Networks…the World of “Connectedness”
    5. 7. http://groups.google.com.au/group/gov20canberra <ul><li>&quot;Government 2.0 is not specifically about social networking or technology based approaches to anything. It represents a fundamental shift in the implementation of government - toward an open, collaborative, cooperative arrangement where there is (wherever possible) open consultation, open data, shared knowledge, mutual acknowledgment of expertise, mutual respect for shared values and an understanding of how to agree to disagree. Technology and social tools are an important part of this change but are essentially an enabler in this process.&quot; </li></ul>
    6. 8. <ul><li>In so many areas, governments and the public servants who support them are being asked to work in ways that are difficult to fit into the methods, structures and culture of a traditional public sector. As the search for solutions for better policy and improved public services demands a capacity for rapid learning and innovation, for large-scale collaboration and shared power and for new patterns of engagement with a more complicated and rapidly evolving mix of interests and people outside of government , the shortcomings of many existing public sector responses, at least in many situations, is becoming less and less easy to ignore. </li></ul>
    7. 9. <ul><li>Web 2.0 isn’t fancy technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The technology is simple and ubiquitous </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 is a culture change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborate don’t control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improvise, share, play, collaborate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users build value, the technology can let them in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be modular: use others’ stuff, let them use yours </li></ul></ul>
    8. 11. Mass Localism <ul><li>An open access process, with a very open first stage </li></ul><ul><li>A clear outcome, and a clear timetable </li></ul><ul><li>A staged process, with help for the development of ideas and graduated rewards </li></ul>Mass localism reflects a broader trend that is increasingly apparent across the economy, culture and society, that of finding distributed answers to problems and delivering solutions with citizens. It represents a shift from mass production to distributed production. Mass Localism: A Way to Hep Small Communities Solve Big Social Challenges , Laura Bunt and Michael Harris, NESTA (UK), February 2010
    9. 12. <ul><li>The committee is thus not able to dive into any detail on how the changing role of information in society, on open data, on the power of self-organization, or the rising power and influence of social media could and should re-shape the public service. </li></ul><ul><li>David Eaves </li></ul>
    10. 13. <ul><li>However, since the vision of the public service remains broadly unchanged, my sense is the reforms, while sometimes large, are ultimately tweaks designed to ensure the continuation of the current model - not prompting a rethink (or the laying of groundwork) for a 21st century public service which will ultimately have to look different to stay relevant. </li></ul><ul><li>David Eaves </li></ul>
    11. 14. <ul><li>The main problem with the public service is that its members aren't even allowed to use collaborative technologies to interact among themselves so how can they possible be ask to collaborate externally? …a digital citizenry isn't interested in talking to an analogue government. </li></ul><ul><li>David Eaves </li></ul>
    12. 15. <ul><li>A networked public service is one that will need new norms as it will function very differently. </li></ul><ul><li>David Eaves </li></ul>
    13. 16. Five knotty questions… <ul><li>How do you shift culture and manage change rather than focus just on the technologies? </li></ul><ul><li>What strategies can be employed to shift the mind set of Ministers and their advisers from its present emphasis on controlling and moderating web 2 technologies to an acceptance of its risks along with its advantages? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we get business units to make the RIGHT technology choice rather than the latest/most convenient/ buzz wordiest choice </li></ul><ul><li>How do public servants handle the conflict of needing to be both open and controlled when interacting in web 2.0 spaces? </li></ul><ul><li>Should government build, administer and maintain collaborative/interactive spaces such as forums (with the associated financial burden) or should we be one of many voices on websites with an established audience in order to gather feedback where the people are (depending on who we're targeting)?   </li></ul>
    14. 17. And five more… <ul><li>What data should be kept and what discarded? Web 2.0 tools have the capacity to generate huge volumes of data, much of it irrelevant to statutory decision making or policy development. How do we determine what must be registered on the public record? </li></ul><ul><li>How is web 2.0 going to change the work of public servants who are used to developing policy and delivering programs with carefully managed stakeholder engagement and formal consultation processes? Are their emerging examples? </li></ul><ul><li>As web 2.0 / gov 2.0 becomes standard to public service delivery, how do we ensure those not socially or economically 'plugged in' do not get overlooked? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the trend toward centralisation in IT delivery make sense and does that maximise the benefits in terms of cost, coordination and capacity to make it easier to share data? </li></ul><ul><li>What IT purchasing framework should we be adopting across departments and agencies to best manage web 2.0? Or will we all be in the cloud in five years and it doesn't matter? </li></ul>
    15. 19. Some advice from the inside… <ul><li>Official  - use of social media to post official departmental comments - for example, my response to various IT news website articles, and  the subsequent comments by readers (see  http://www.itnews.com.au/News/166172,feds-eye-windows-7-security-in-d...  or  http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/hardware/soa/Government-issues-400m-desk... ) is done in my official capacity - I identify myself and my role  clearly and use my work email address. To do so, a public servant would probably be the responsible officer for an activity and his/her  agency would have guidelines that allow such comments or rely for  guidance on those from the APSC. The content is factual, not opinion,  and responses are likely to be limited to providing explanations or  addressing errors of fact, misquotes, etc. A relatively small number  of APS members will probably make official statements, but quite possibly more than do now.  </li></ul><ul><li>Professional - a public servant posting in their personal capacity on  a matter in which they have some expertise, possibly relating to their  job. They might be identifiable as an APS member but would be more likely to use their personal email address/profile than their work  address. You could compare this usage of social media with speeches at  professional conferences, papers in professional journals, etc. Such  online comments would most likely not to be made in work time, although some agencies allow reasonable personal use or incidental use of the internet which could be utilised for a few minutes during  working hours or maybe longer during lunch, etc. These comments might  reflect general experience gained at work or perhaps refer to de- identified incidents or matters already in the public domain, etc. If  some comment is controversial, reasonable people will realise that it isn't an official statement. More APS members will make professional comment than do official comment but the number will still be limited  - more because of personal preference than any imposed limits. </li></ul><ul><li>Personal - comments on a subject not related to work - a football  team, a hobby or just Facebook chat. The most used profile for such comments is again likely to be linked to a personal not a work email address. Many APS members will participate online in their personal capacity - and are probably doing so now.  </li></ul><ul><li>In all cases, as pointed out earlier in the thread, public servants remain bound by the APS Code of Conduct, values, etc. However, it's useful to remember that it was ever thus. The channel is changing -  not the required behaviour. Over 200,000 federal government employees  have access to email now and yet they generally don't utilise it inappropriately - just like they don't write inappropriate letters to the editor, as a rule, or leak information, in all but a few cases. In my experience, most don't find these constraints restrictive - and  those that do, generally leave. Because those that remain well understand the requirements, they are careful not to cross the boundaries and are likely to continue, and can be trusted, to behave responsibly.  </li></ul><ul><li>John Sheridan, General manager, AGIMO (From Govt 2 Australia Google Group) </li></ul>

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