Well, here we are…at the end of another year. I don’t know about you, but I always use this last week of the year to reflect and get re-centered for the coming year.
As I looked through my blog posts over the year, I see a trend. I started out high on the optimism that comes with a new President, hopeful that all wrongs would be righted and all dreams would come true. Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen. I really didn’t think it would…but I did HOPE.
I also looked through some of the email I’ve received from my web colleagues this year. Again, there’s that trend…high on hope at the beginning and, over the months, reality sets in. In some cases, there’s even despair. Well, yes, there are some worrisome things going on…pressure to push administration “news” overwhelming the great need to improve online services; a surprising (disappointing) number of new websites - some that look redundant, some that clearly are vanity sites, and many that show no real appreciation for usability standards – adding to the already enormous bloat of online government information; and in some cases, experienced and knowledgeable web managers being pushed aside (and even out) for trying to do what they know citizens want.
But there also are good things happening…the web manager community as a whole has come together and is being recognized for their ideas; government websites are being used to engage citizen participation in unprecedented ways; and some of the threshold issues in web management that need to be resolved are being aired and discussed at the appropriate levels. All in all, not a bad year. But what’s next? What will the new year bring? More important, what can I (and you) do to make it better?
Well, here’s where the title of this blog piece comes in. Believe! Let me digress a bit.
A few weeks ago, I walked into Macy’s mothership store (the one on 34th St. in New York), and I looked up to see a huge sign that said, “Believe!” It was their Christmas theme, and there’s no doubt that all those kids dropping their letters to Santa in the big “wish box” were taking it to heart. For some reason, that sign really struck me. It got me thinking about what everything comes down to – knowing what you believe…following your own beliefs. Keeping them in site. Using them to ground you when the going gets tough AND when you’re high on success. Reviewing them periodically to make sure they’re still right, and – if they are – recommitting yourself to upholding them. Showing in your actions what you believe in your head and heart.
So, as I reflect on the past year in the world of government web management and the possibilities for next year, here’s what I believe:
I believe in public service. I believe it’s a noble profession that attracts people who want to serve, not sell, and who want to help others, not themselves. I believe that public servants are committed and smart and resourceful and capable of solving any problem and overcoming any obstacle. I believe that once you’re a public servant, you’re always a public servant – that it’s a life-long passion, not just a job. I believe that, if you are a public servant, you do what you can (even if it’s only lobbing in some ideas through a blog) to help citizens.
I believe in courage and common sense. I believe that the best of us take risks to do the right thing. I believe that we don’t give up – that we keep looking for ways around the “no’s” and that we push on, despite the obstacles. I believe that best practices come from common sense approaches. I believe that if we trust our common sense, show courage even when we feel powerless, and speak up even when we face disapproval, we can solve any problem and achieve any goal.
I believe in the power of the community. I believe that we serve best when we serve together. I believe in building critical mass and sharing what we know and using the combined knowledge, wisdom, and talents of our colleagues to cause real, positive, lasting change.
Above all, I believe in doing the right thing for the American people. I know that if we use this value as our compass and articulate our goals based on this belief, we cannot be wrong. And I believe that if we do right things that serve the public well, then we have succeeded.
These are my beliefs. Maybe some of them are your beliefs, too. Whatever…maybe – like me - you’ll use this last week of the year to sit down and think about what you really believe in. Get yourself re-centered. And then think about what you can do next year to show that you “believe!”
Happy New Year, one and all!