This morning, an article in The Guardian outlined some main points from the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels on how EU countries can achieve culture change in government, through the use of digital tools such as social media.
British-born Robert Madelin, director general of the European Commission’s directorate-general for information society and media, acknowledges that public sector organisations need to change and, in particular, to embrace social media. “As civil servants, we risk being left irrelevant if we do not do all we can to speed up how we work,” he says. “The old command and control ways of working, no longer works.”
Their vision is that if they harness social media, the power hierarchies will be broken down and policy creation will be a more transparent practice, which would build trust and involve more people. This in turn would completely change the culture of the government in Europe.
These are the six practices that Madelin put into practice at the European Commission in order to achieve this more democratized goal:
- You can’t lead if you don’t lead. This means devoting time every day to social media. This won’t happen if you assume you must be at your desk, so make it mobile from day one.
- Do it yourself: social media lacks authenticity if it is outsourced or automatic. “People can sense it if your Twitter or Facebook accounts doesn’t reflect your real personality and they don’t like it.”
- Take ownership of the risks of junior colleagues. It’s important to give permission to others to innovate and make mistakes.
- Self select a group of pioneers: don’t force social media on everyone, just work with the enthusiasts and demonstrate what is possible.
- Don’t create an expectation until the approach is proven in your organisation: provide permission for the enthusiasts to do what they want to do – and learn what works.
- Be open about experimentation: If you are open about your intentions and limited competencies people will step in to help make it work.
Do you think the European Commission is moving in the right direction?
What would you add to their action list?