HRSDC’s Web 2.0 Symposium – Thoughts and Insights

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On Friday January 20, something amazing happened. Public servants, mainly from HRSDC, but also from several other departments met to discuss everything Web 2.0. The agenda was packed, the content insightful but most importantly, I had a chance to meet public servants who share a passion for technology similar to my own.

The amazing part was seeing public servants connecting to learn, to grow and to bring back ideas to our respective areas of government. Meetings like the HRSDC Web 2.0 Symposium are and will be the catalyst to change in the public service. I often find myself confronting the problem of reaching the fringes of the public service. The new bureaucracy is formed not by the minority who push innovation but by the majority who adopt it.

I’m often reminded of the 90-9-1 Power Law of Participation. When applied to modernization of the public service and getting us to the new bureaucracy I argue:

– 1% of people will heavily contribute

– 9% of people will contribute sometimes

– 90% of people will watch from the sidelines

But my thoughts on this are for another blog post. Image borrowed from a deck by Policy Horizons.

So what happened during the symposium? The theme of the day was using social media to engage employees. We heard from many speakers who brought a public service frame to internal social media. We addressed many of the challenges of building communities online, of creating corporate blogs, of modernizing our workspaces and the challenges of being social in a public service that must be cautious in its communications. While I would say that most of the presentations brought forward the same points that most public servant practitioners of web 2.0 have heard time and time again (selling to the converted you might say) it was encouraging to see so many public servants who are not part of the web 2.0 community.

The keynote speaker for the day was the Government of Canada’s CIO Corinne Charette who presented a unique view of the position of the public service from the point of view of a central agency. She highlighted many of the social media initiatives underway (GCConnex, GCForums and GCPedia) but also some of the long term version for internal social media in the public service. The theme throughout her speech was the need for a fundamental culture shift in the public service for social media to be successful. Social media could not be successful unless we the public service change how we do business.

While much of the content had an internal focus on HRSDC initiatives, the day was useful and productive. The ideas, the concepts, the strategies and the contacts I made during the symposium will not only help me in my own job as a public servant but will also help me in my quest for the new bureaucracy. Each event, each policy discussion, each social gathering and each symposium is needed to engage public servants. It is my goal to get ALL public servants involved in the dialogue and not only allow the “system” to discourage innovation. Together we can create the new bureaucracy.

Note: For more information on the HRSDC Symposium on Web 2.0 check out (accessible on a GC connection ONLY, please e-mail me if you’d like access to the documents and I can get in touch with the presenters):

HRSDC Symposium on Web 2.0

Scott McNaughton, Originally posted on the http://thenewbureaucracy.ca

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