Hello, GovLoop community! This is the first of a monthly blog series I’ll be writing to share what we at GovLoop are learning from the government community. What I hope to do in these forthcoming columns is focus on the trending topics we’re seeing, share relevant data and highlight great things that government is doing.
Today, I want to write about community. The word “community” has been top of mind for me recently. Since moving in to the role of General Manager of GovLoop earlier this year, my focus for our team has been community. I think of it as the foundation of GovLoop. Our mission is to help government folks do their jobs better by creating informational resources on a variety of topics. But that’s not really our job. Our job is to provide a gathering place where like-minded govies can learn, teach and grow. Our resources are useful, but what makes them truly impactful is getting them in front of the community (270,000+ strong) of people who carry out their agency’s mission and serve our citizens on a daily basis.
For those in the D.C., area we recently experienced a wonderful celebration of victory, happiness, relief and comradery that has not happened in a long time. What I’m referring to is the Washington Capitals winning their first Stanley Cup Championship in 44 years.
What does a hockey team bringing home a long-wanted national trophy after more than four decades have to do with community and GovLoop?
The answer: an awful lot.
Communities are places where people can gather (physically or virtually) and feel like they are in a place where they can learn, teach, lead and grow. Using the Capitals championship as an example of community, there were a mix of lifelong fans who suffered many frustrating seasons of losing and playoff disappointment and new fans who may have just discovered the Capitals as they embarked on this year’s playoff run to the championship.
What was the unifying factor that brought this community together? Well, there wasn’t a single factor. In fact, I think there were four factors: togetherness, winning/losing, engagement and empathy. These are all elements of what makes up a healthy community, regardless of focus area.
Let’s break down these factors:
To be a healthy community, there has to be a sense of “we are in this together.” Regardless of experience levels, a sense of togetherness makes members feel safe and encourages participation. For GovLoop, this means being the gathering place for government professionals with a variety of experience to improve government by sharing knowledge and innovation with one another. For the Capitals community this meant giving fans (newbies and longtime fans) space and encouraging them to experience the journey together.
It’s been said that you can learn as much from losing as winning. This particularly holds true for communities. In government, taking time to look at programs that did not succeed is critical to improving government. Not all is lost when a program does not succeed, and identifying the elements that worked and did not make the next program that much more impactful. The GovLoop community is set up to allow for this sharing of information and discussion. Similarly for the Capitals, their previous history of losing in the playoffs and identifying what needed improvement helped build the blueprint for success in 2018.
A community cannot exist without engagement. GovLoop experiences a deep level of engagement on a daily basis from our members. Engagement comes in all shapes, from blog posts, comments/questions, interviews, training and events. All of these options have one common element; an opportunity for govies to interact with one another. For the Capitals, engagement came in their efforts to bring the game to all of their fans — not just those who had tickets. By providing opportunities for fans to view the games outside and inside the arena they wanted to make sure this community was engaged with one another and the team. Given the several thousands of fans that attended, I would say that they can check the engagement box.
Last, but certainly not least, is empathy. Empathy is the unifier of all communities. Empathy allows community members to feel a sense of belonging, trust and freedom to share experiences. Empathy in the GovLoop community means confidence to ask a question of a fellow govie, sharing insights and being open to listening to other points of view. Empathy in the Capitals community means enjoying the experience and stories of others and their journey to becoming a Capitals fan. There is not a singular path but a culmination of paths that includes learning more about those around you, which makes a community stronger.
So there you have it. The connection between the Caps Stanley Cup Championship, community and GovLoop should now be clear. Either that or I simply spent a lot of time to find a way to talk about two things I love — GovLoop and hockey.
While GovLoop will never win a Stanley Cup, we have the privilege to win something bigger every day: the honor of helping the awesome government workforce serve the public and fulfill their agency missions.
Let’s go Gov!
Doug Mashkuri is the General Manager of GovLoop.