CIOs, please stop erecting those walls

Back in October of 2009 I noted that, according to IDC and Robert Half Technology, 54% of all US CIOs prohibit social networking sites at work. While the numbers were a cause for discussion at that time, many experts in the field have told me that the walls have been crumbling down. Well, John Cougar Mellencamp may have sung it, but the reality is that those walls are still going up around many businesses and agencies.

According to Robert Half’s latest survey of 1400 CIOs we see that 38 percent of CIOs interviewed are implementing stricter social networking policies. In fact, the CIOs are becoming more strict with respect to the use of social networking for both personal and business use with only 17% becoming more lenient.

While there is great value, in my opinion, in the strategic deployment of social networking and collaboration efforts there remain a many skeptics in the executive rank. Be ready to make a solid business case and involve everyone in the process. If you don’t, you may just find those walls going up even higher in your organization.


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Noel Dickover

I wonder what impact, if any, the DoD’s social media policy (Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-based Capabilities) will have on Industry? This is a fairly large sized organization with a fair amount of security concerns which has gone in the opposite direction.

Patrick Quinn

The walls are going higher at KDOT. We just installed a new security system that’s generating violation reports at a fantastic rate. I am posting on GL by sliding around the firewall on a guest account, which is a terrific pain in the backside, and about half of my SM sites are now blocked.

Gov IT departments are committed to the notion (broadly put) that all SM sites are initially verboten, w/ a handful of sites eligible for some sort of benign exemption after a sufficiently large number of users have tugged their forelocks and asked nicely. Watching that system get blown to smithereens will be one of the highlights of my declining years.

John Moore

That is a great question, Noel. I am chatting with the Secretary of the Navy tomorrow, one of my questions is how interested Navy and DoD is in becoming a leader in best practices in this space. If they are, they have the ability to make a major positive impact. -John

Erica Butler

We’re slowly chipping away at it at my office in the UK. Certain public services, politicians and candidates and businesses are all using it, but many public sector worker are still shut out by these policies. At my org, it doesn’t even come from our management – our external IT provider thinks these sites are too risky. I had to beg them for 2 months to unlock GovLoop!

John Moore

Erica, be careful of opening up access to GovLoop. Subversive ideas like transparency and engagement may start to seep into the entire organization! 🙂

Grant Ricketts

Nice posts John, Erica, Patrick, Noel, etc. I’m curious, is there a published list of ‘best practices’ for allowing greater Internet access from Gov’t agencies, while providing for basic (or even enhanced security concerns)? I’m not an expert in this area, but I consult in Governance and change mgmt, and sometimes these types of questions come up. Any pointers to a ‘short list’ of key considerations, and/or ‘dissuaders’ for the over-zealot IT mgr? I did pull down the DoD doc Noel referenced. Pointers appreciated. Thanks.

Ed Albetski

I think the executives are listening to their security folks. As someone who works for our CIO, as long as several social networking sites have games and other applets that send code into the browser to work, these sites will be outlawed. Security issues are going to take precedence. As they should, really. We were hit a while back by a zero-day bot. It’ll take an act of congress to take down our “Never again” motto. While we allow access to LinkedIn, GovLoop and some other “professional” sites and we will likely allow our agency to post an official page on Facebook and the like on a dirty server, I seriously doubt we will open the purely social sites to our employees anytime soon. There is just too much risk at this time.

John Moore

Ed, thanks for the candid response and I do understand where you are coming from. While I would argue business/organizational goals must come ahead of security risks I respect your opinion. My reason, security risks can be mitigated, without blocking access, through policies and monitoring.

Business and organization goals should never be impacted by fear. Organizations and individuals alike must find creative solutions, that is the world we must live in.


Srinidhi Boray

Dialoguing the Difference

Leaders have thrived on creating fear. Having worked supporting many CIO office both in Federal and Commercial, it is evident that they want everyone to speak but not talk. Many of these so called CIO exploited their elitist status created plans and contracts on the golf grounds and somehow called them strategies. Most CIOs in the Federal are running scared in creating transparent “Enterprise Strategy Plan” for the IT spend and in publicly discussing them. Many times in the guise of using open communication, people are profiled ( like the employing the most questionable “briggs meyer” ) and hounded.

When they speak, pretending to be discussing openly, they are not honest. In fact being smart, but not honest has become an accepted practice among their cadre.

Dangerously, only to have developed and thrived on intuitive and political skills, these leaders have lost capacity for rationalizing or logically erecting correct ideas. These leaders are devoid of capacity for discerning “rational” from “empirical”. To such people any dialogue is an unwanted and frustrating process. It is very much still Machiavellian. And, do they have regard for anyone else to be speaking?

Srinidhi Boray

The “fiefdom” that Leader like to erect – unfortunately has had a crippling effect on the grass-root. The transformation is occurring in this area, fortunately for those marginalized by the system, illogical plans of the leaders are evidently in the open. Stifling cannot be withstood anymore. Many times these CIOs dreading that their efforts for obfuscation being exposed, shun people with experience.

I found it interesting to contrast in the below link the “sovereignty” under both Keynesian and Hayek model.

Grant Ricketts

Interesting comments, all. Seems that there are some emerging themes… ‘appropriate professional use’ would seem a reasonable start, per Ed (people can do broad social networking from home if not inside some Fed agency durng work). I would be curious, Ed, as to what made LinkedIn and GovLoop qualify and ‘get in’ whereas Facebook would be out? How long or short is the ‘considerations’ list?

Also, the ‘CIO politics’ is certainly real, per Srinidhi. That would seem to support the need to seek out and publish a set of ‘best practices’ guidelines for doing this, and let people add experiences to it (both + and -).

While philosophically, many of us would support the ‘most open’ of standards, it’s also been my experience that markets move incrementally. So, perhaps some outright compromises to get this started would be enough to pull the most recalcitrant CIO further into the open (even if they’re way over on the 17th fairway).

Is there a professional association or leading publication that might take this up as well? Help collect and distribute best practices and enlarge the debate? Again, open to hearing more as I will want to add some of this into my ‘governance’ discussions around learning and talent management.

Srinidhi Boray

Whenever, the idea for “cookbook”, “guidance” or “best-practice” emerge, so do Fascists. These folks often prove subversive to any well-intend plan. The only best practice is to be ethical and discuss with proper motivations. Also, social networks in principle are designed to promote “network effects”, these have many random movements. There cannot be “a” accepted practice for random movement. However, based on the generative order, by coalescing ideas and people sharing similar motivations will begin to cohort.