Getting To Seamless

In my last post, I set out a comment from a speaker at a recent event held at NASA. The quote was:

“The future of Open Government is allowing seamless conversations to occur between thousands of government employees and thousands of others.”

I think this is what we are now calling a network. In this post, I would like to explore the ideas in the quote a bit further and also ask for your input.

As I understand it, the network form of operating described in this quote is one where government employees involved in related endeavors are communicating with each other and with those citizens who have an investment in this work as providers, customers, partners and critical stakeholders.

Government “allows” these conversations, when it enables, supports, in some cases facilitates, provides a conducive environment for, legitimizes and removes obstacles to these conversations.

When we talk about all of this in terms of Open Government we are reflecting that there are other varieties of government such as “closed government,” traditional government, semi-open government, etc. At present, this is the case requiring us to speak about an alternative called Open Government. However, I believe that this new way of operating is the future so that in time what we are calling Open Government will be adopted as an important part of Government.

For me, the most powerful word used in this quote is “seamless.” To me seamless describes a flow of communicating, sharing knowledge, making use of knowledge, and acting based on that knowledge which is so well-integrated into the work process, so well facilitated by the technology, so supported by individual competencies in these areas as to be seen as an integral part of the ongoing flow of work and life. This flow of communicating will also need to be congruent with the organizational structures.

To get to being “seamless” in a government that is often described in terms of silos and domains of turf is a bit step. Yet there are examples of progress even in the areas with the reputation for being the most intractable. For example, in the U.S. Intelligence Community with all of its separate agencies, the use of an Intellipedia approach is trying to make the sharing of knowledge seamless across these well-established agency and discipline boundaries.

Getting to seamless requires changes in attitudes, behaviors, competencies, processes, technology, structures, culture, measurement, performance and reward criteria, and legislation. It requires testing and validating old mental models and creating new mental models. An important aspect here is building the quality of relationships and the quality of communication and collaboration.

I am wondering if others have examples of “getting to seamless” in government and what kinds of changes were required to get there.

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