This week I caught up with Lynn Dean to talk about the impressive evolution of the Transportation Security Administration’s Idea Factory and get the scoop on the organization’s wisdom.
As a communications strategist, Dean knows how important it is to engage every audience. “When people think about social media, they assume communication always means external, but it’s not,” she explains. 90 percent of TSA’s workforce is in the field at airports of all sizes.
The Idea Factory is a great model to use when thinking about developing internal communication or collaboration tools.
If You Build it, They May Not Come
When you launch any new tool, education is key. People will have different levels of comfort and experience with web-based platforms. Instead of using comment cards people are now being asked to submit their ideas online.
Senior level buy in will only get you so far. “Change is often an inherent challenge in government,” said Dean. The communities that develop as a result of the Idea Factory are invaluable. A core community of users has evolved and officers are interacting more; contributors are known by name by officers in airports thousands of miles away.
Keep ‘Em Coming Back
TSA holds challenges for specific issues and offers awards for the best submission. Winners are recognized in a variety of ways and may be invited to DC to work on groups implementing the change, visited when officials are in the field or featured in the newsletter. The service has evolved over time and now features a newsletter for those most interested in what’s being voted on or adopted each week.
Let it Grow
Create a dynamic tool where users can contribute to the design. The Idea Factory posts surveys to see what officers and other TSA employees find most useful or want to see more of. The Department of Homeland Security, TSA’s older sibling, is even looking at using a similar tool in other areas of the department due to its success.
Suggestions from small or large airports and HQ will likely differ. In Washington, I may not think that a bulletin board in the break room is a big deal but for officers who break at different times it means a lot. The Idea Factory’s voting function allows employees to decide what’s important to them. Practical suggestion and an easy fix.
As your organization moves further along the path towards Gov 2.0, don’t forget your colleagues. Some of the greatest innovation and creative energy is closer than you think. Just ask a TSA officer next time you fly.