Recently an organization named L2 released the Public Sector Digital IQ rankings. They provided an assessment and ranking of the digital competence of 100 public sector organizations across four dimensions: Site, Digital Marketing, Social Media and Mobile. It is a pretty fascinating read and some of the top public sector entities were NASA, Army, State Department, Marines, and the White House with highlighted projects such as data.gov and notifications dashboard
In contrast, I would like to offer 3 reasons why I really like the study…and rankings in general.
1) Something is Better than Nothing – An 80% accurate metric is better than no metric at all . Yes, the Digital IQ ranking isn’t perfect. But before it, there was no way to show whether an agency was doing well online. It is hard to know if you or an organization is doing good, if there is no ranking or measurement. I’d argue the same is true with educational measurements of teacher effectiveness – lots of debate on how accurate they are – but I’d rather have something than nothing.
2) Rankings Provide Legitimacy – By ranking a topic, it provides legitimacy to the topic. Leaders always want to be first at something and by ranking something, it shows it is important. For example, the Partnership for Public Service “Best Places to Work” rankings have highlighted an area that was undervalued for years – workplace environment in the public sector. And after the rankings were created, senior leaders started focusing on this issue. Hopefully, the same will be true with digital IQ and public sector social media.
3) Rankings Create Change – Tied to number 2, I’ve seen first-hand how after the Best Places to Work rankings became popular, senior leaders started spending time, money, and energy to improve their workplace. After the U.S. News and World Report created rankings of universities, universities started spending time, money, and energy to do better. After the Digital Cities rankings became prominent, mayors and senior IT leaders were tasked to work hard to get on the list and become a world-class digital city.
Yes, rankings aren’t perfect. The equations are often questionable (can you tell a health city by the number of bars – men’s health?), the specific rankings of who is on top may not be perfect, and quantitative numbers often fail to capture qualitative distinctions.
But I do think rankings are very useful.
-They offer a rough guide on who is doing a good job (we do know NIH is doing something good in workplace environment vs DHS based on Best places to work)
-They provide emphasis on an issue for senior leaders
-On a change management framework, they give an impetus to move.