About two months ago, Lovisa Williams of the State Department wrote on her blog about about six areas that need attention if the current changes in government (toward openness, transparency, and collaboration) are to be institutionalized :
- People. We need to find ways to support the change agents and others who are working to ensure the agency successfully transitions to this new iteration of government.
- Laws. Some laws need to be modified for operation in this new age, others should probably be repealed.
- Positions in government – community managers, social media strategists, new media directors, social media analysts and more.
- Training opportunities. Training is one of the primary ways we implement a new way of thinking and doing business.
- Social media policies. Most policies talk about what you should not do. Some, like the policy from the Department of State, takes great pains to tell you the use of social media is not only permitted, but encouraged.
- Content for the specific communities and attitudes toward user-generated content. This change of needing more tailored content and managing more user generated content requires us to hire different skill sets and perhaps more people to accommodate these requirements. Currently, most agencies are not equipped to deal with either of these requirements.
I’ve been thinking about these and have a few observations:
- Human Resources matters. The people in HR will help to determine (sometimes to a great degree) the training opportunities and position descriptions for offices. They’re also likely to have a hand in the social media policy (or at least the dissemination thereof) and supporting the change agents within an office. That makes them important–and too often overlooked–loci of social media adoption within an office. Which leads to my second point:
- Intra-agency and even intra-office cooperation matters. To achieve Lovisa’s change, government agencies need to break down silos, dismantle stovepipes, and disrupt swim lanes. It’s called “social media,” not “asocial media.”
- Change comes both top-down and bottom-up. Some change can come only from the top–setting policies, and describing new position descriptions, e.g. But a lot of change comes from the bottom up: setting a culture where change is embraced, and applying for new training opportunities, as examples. If govvies are going to demand change, they also need to accept change, which may mean in their own positions and work habits. Not always easy! Also, there’s a need for champions of change within an office – someone from on high who can ensure that institutionalizing change is part of the agenda.
- Make a place for people, but also go where the people are. While agencies are making room for user generate content, they also need to make use of sites where their audiences are already talking among themselves.
- Wait impatiently. As Lovisa says in a few places in her post (which is well worth reading!), not everything is going to happen overnight. So some waiting is in order. But change usually happens because people are pressing for it, so no one should get too comfortable. Persistence is the key.
What are your thoughts? How is your agency or office “institutionalizing change”?