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GovLoop Project of the Week – Gov 2.0 University

This week we feature Gov 2.0 University. While social media/web 2.0 are far from new, it is for many Government leaders who struggle trying to understand what it all means and how they can implement it into their business structure and processes. Gov 2.0 University exists to “help government leaders successfully apply Web 2.0 technologies and methods to real government problems”.

What is Gov 2.0 University?

Gov 2.0 University is a joint project between LMI and Hinchcliffe & Company that seeks to help government agencies integrate the best tools and principles of the Web 2.0 world into their cultures and processes in a way that enhances mission achievement. Our initial offerings are classes, geared to the appropriate level, to help government effectively use collaborative media.

How did the idea of this type of university come about?

The head of LMI’s Intelligence Programs, Teresa Smetzer, is a former senior executive officer with the CIA who has spent a career looking for ways for government to do things smarter. Teresa heard Dion Hinchcliffe speak at a Web 2.0 conference on the challenge of integrating emerging technologies within well-established bureaucracies. Dion’ company built the Web 2.0 University, which brings these concepts to the private sector, globally in companies such AOL, Best Buy, and T.Rowe Price. We decided to tailor these courses to the unique needs of the government and bring something transformative and positive to the public sector.

This team brings an ideal blend of experience to speak intelligently, but in a mission-grounded fashion, to government agencies trying to make sense of the collaborative media arena. LMI is a non-profit consulting and research organization with a long history of partnership with federal government and a reputation for independent analysis on tough problems facing government managers. Hinchcliffe is an industry leader in Web 2.0 business solutions and understands the difference between those with merit versus those that are hype.

Who is the brainchild behind Gov 2.0 University?

Dion and Teresa were initially the driving forces behind this project, but it’s truly been a collaborative effort between LMI and Hinchcliffe that has grown our offering into its current form. Many of us who had attended similar Web 2.0 offerings felt that we were watching a square peg being forced into a round hole: well-intentioned technologists looking for ways to import social media tools into governments spaces essentially as-is. Our team—which consists of many former government workers—feared that this dynamic could well result in government cultures rejecting, outright, technological advances that could otherwise vastly improve the efficiency and collaborative capacity of their agencies and communities. A core group of a dozen people—from both companies–has worked on this in true Web 2.0 fashion – meeting and brainstorming to find common themes, building common access materials through Google docs, and tracking progress through a Social Text collaborative site. We think we’ve built something that remains true to the high quality of Dion’s original Web 2.0 University offering, but which is sufficiently revolutionary in its applicability to the ground truths of government.

What is the mission and purpose?

We believe in the power of Web 2.0 tools and processes to make a meaningful difference in the way Government works, but we also understand that there are nuances and hurdles to working in the public sector that differ greatly from factors at play in other industries. In a sense, we are seeking to play the role of translators – helping the Web 2.0 technologists understand the affects of mission focus, while coaching government officials to embrace and fully leverage the benefits of collaborative media. Government bureaucracies don’t want to be the bureaucratic machines that they are lampooned to be: there are so many cultural realities and compounding factors that feed into the various unique and collective dynamics of Government, and it’s no small task to find the best (and least threatening) mechanisms to cut across organizations to improve process. Most of all, we believe in Government, and we want to do our part to help them help themselves.

When did Gov 2.0 University officially launch?

Our official launch was last Thursday, September 17th. We are hoping to hold our first course next week.

What types of classes are offered and who are they geared towards?

The Executive Primer is a short, highly tailored briefing held at the office of senior government executives, built to focus an agency leader on how Web 2.0 tools and processes can improve agency performance.

The Manager’s Course is a two-day course, built for the mid-level manager, that stresses the value of Web 2.0 in the government spaces and examines how integration of these tools and processes will affect the day-to-day operations of a unit, so that managers can learn how to maximize the effectiveness of those new processes.

The Practitioner’s Course is a five-day hands-on course to help front-line government workers learn how to fully leverage 2.0 tools and processes in support of their mission.

We also realize that one size can never fit all, so we are dedicated to working with requesting agencies to tailor training to their individual missions, challenges, and working environments.

Where do you see Gov 2.0 University in the next five years?

In an ideal world, we will have worked ourselves out of a job: we’d love to see the tools embraced and integrated into a broad variety of government missions, to the extent that government fully incentives use of collaborative media and makes it a part of the foundational education programs. Our hope is to transition, over time, to a coaching role – helping agencies use these tools better, against their respective unique challenges, rather than focusing on whether the tools are used at all.

What has the response been like?

We’re very happy with how things have gone. There was an immediate buzz in the Twitter-sphere, with some really heavy hitters picking us up; our press release was picked up by bio-medicine.org; and we were thrilled that, on the first day, the State of Utah became a Facebook fan.

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Government should be transparent.
Government should be participatory.
Government should be collaborative.

~ President Barack Obama

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Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks for sharing information about Gov 2.0 University, Naomi. I’ve found that education is one of the critical ingredients for overcoming resistance from senior management. Fear accompanies lack of knowledge. Once the veil is lifted and agency leaders see the value of greater transparency, participation and collaboration – and the social media tools that enable this more open culture – they almost invariable get energized by the possibilities to perform their work more efficiently and effectively.

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Profile Photo Leo M. Grassi

Although what Andrew said is true, let’s not forget the stifling effects that some within older generations can have on such initiatives. Generational barriers continue to thwart many advances in communication and management practices.

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