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Network Competency—an Integrated Business Framework for Gov 2.0 [1}

Gov 2.0 is fundamentally about leveraging the power of networks – not on Pandora but on planet earth. As on Pandora, an understanding and competency of how, when, and why networks work is the key to success. Whether those networks involve outward facing citizen involvement, internal facing employee involvement or both – behavioral understanding is critical.

Here are key elements of network competency that can help your agency achieve success.

Element 1: Building network value—Why is your agency building networks?

The starting point for any network implementation should always be to have a clear and concrete understanding of why agency time, resources and energy are being spent to enable network behaviors. And the answer should be deeper than mere compliance with the Open Government Directive (OGD). What do we hope to accomplish? What are the expected outputs of network activity?

Network implementation serves two primary purposes in government. First, networks build an information asset. Second, networks of citizens and employees can enable continuous improvement of governmental processes.

The first value objective, building an information asset, is important for several reasons. First, information assets provide real time intelligence on citizen preferences. Second, citizen networks can provide problem recognition and cost avoidance. And third, networks can provide institutional memory that enables education of new stakeholders and government employees. As staff and elected officials change, public issues remain largely the same.

The second value objective, enabling continuous improvement is true for both policy and process. What solution possibilities exist that we may not have otherwise discovered? The Better Buy project, led by Mary Davie and others, is just such a process.

Element 2: Success Factors: Organizational Investment

Effective implementation of Gov 2.0 only occurs with an acute understanding of the organizational investment necessary for desired outcomes. Key success factors include:

  • A clear identification of value objectives from above. What is success and how will it be measured?
  • An ability to create a clear value proposition for citizen participation. Can the agency break the threshold necessary to incentivize citizens to participate?
  • Having a clear understanding of the agency’s role in the network.
    • Does the agency intend to be central in the network?
    • Will the agency moderate citizen content?
    • Will the agency contribute its own trusted content?
    • Will the agency dedicate leadership and network management?
    • Will the agency leverage other networks—social portals and others?
    • How will the agency address emergent outcomes?
    • Projection of clear expectations for organizations and user members. What are the boundaries and conditions of citizen participation?

We might think of these organizational success factors as inputs in our network equations.

Element 3: Network Conditions that Incentivize Citizen Involvement.

Citizen, employee and stakeholder participation in agency-sponsored networks is directly dependent upon behavioral conditions created for each network. Conditions are not mutually exclusive. Examples include:

  • Trust based on currency and results.
  • Meeting citizen expectations of privacy and security.
  • Minimizing social fear.
  • Building compelling social attention with unique, novel, and interesting experiences.
  • Providing member recognition and peer accreditation.
  • Enabling members to make a difference.
  • Enabling discovery of logical connections.
  • Providing compelling content that drives member exchange.
  • Maximizing total members but grouping collaboration to meet the Dunbar number (150) constraint.
  • Maximizing sharing of content and recommendations (exchange)
  • Granularity of participation required. (There is an inverse relationship to number of members).
  • Simplicity of member experience.
  • Resilience.
  • Clear leadership and community management, enabling member leadership.
  • Building exchange with citizen networks.

Think of these conditions as creating a kaleidoscope of network possibilities with many permutations or combinations, each combination resulting in a different outcome. Technology supports and enables conditions to occur. But it is the conditions created that either encourage or discourage citizen and member participation.

Element 4: Building member value–the individual.

The final element is perhaps the most important—creating member value for the individual citizen, employee, and stakeholder. How do citizens derive value from their network interactions, and what would motivate them to contribute value? There are 3 individual drivers:

  • The network builds a reference good that enables discovery and learning (think Amazon).
  • The employee, citizen, and/or stakeholder receive a material gain from network participation (not usually prevalent in agency sponsored networks).
  • Achieving psychological well being through:
    • Recognition-being heard.
    • Building credentials.
    • Enabling connectedness.

Thoughtful Use of the Integrated Business Framework™

Thoughtfully leveraging networks is important to agency success. Getting the most out of networks means far more than building data transparency. It rarely will mean building collaborative crowd sourcing for thousands or millions of citizens. It will often mean respecting citizen privacy and minimizing social fear through the use of public comment—providing citizens with a method for independent discrete input.

But being thoughtful will always require understanding the four elements of the Integrated Business Framework for Network Competency™:

  • Clearly defined value expectations.
  • Success factors and required organizational investment.
  • Network conditions that incentivize citizen involvement; and,
  • Building member value for citizens and other stakeholders.

As the Gov 2.0 paradigm advances, network competency based on this framework will be key to agency success.

Feel free to connect with me on twitter @kpkfusion

[1] The Integrated Business Framework for Gov 2.0 is part of an copyrighted educational curriculum, Integrated Business Framework for Network Competency. © Ingage Networks 2010.

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Keith Moore

Great framework Kim to start an amazing day of talent, time, and idea sharing invested into helping to shape the Open Government Directive.

Click OpenGovernmentTV link to view live streaming video of the Open Government Workshop event from 2:00-4:30 p.m.


“The philosopher” is back. Glad to see you Kim – been missing the blogs.

Lots of gems in here that just reconfirm to me that network behavior is complicated and requires insight and set-up factors to succeed.

I hope one of the lessons learn we take out of the early implementations of dialogues/networks in government is to spend more time thinking through how to enable certain behavior. Technology is just a piece of the problem and I actually think the technology that enables these things in small micro ways will be much more successful.

I just think of something as simple as Top 100 leaderboard on GovLoop which is very elementary and kind of hidden but still people tell me they check it and is a good network initiator.

MIchelle Lyons

I couldn’t agree more with what Kim has said. Each network/ online community is unique as I am finding out but there are some fundamental elements (technology and engagement practice) that apply across the board.

AJ Malik

I concur, especially with Element 4: Building member value–the individual. The Model of the Ingroup as a Social Resource (MISR)* suggests that the group’s utility to any individual member depends on the combined influence of the following three factors: the value or degree to which the individual perceives the group positively, the individual’s level of identification with the group, and the perception of a group as pure entity; internally coherent and distinct from other groups.

Source: Correll, J. & Park, B. (2005). A Model of the Ingroup as a Social Resource. Personality & Social Psychology Review, 9, 341-359.

Joe Boutte

I like the questions (considerations) you’ve included. I’m particularly interested in exploring how we measure the impacts, success/failure, and value-added of our networks. For example, the interaction that occurs on social networks cause knowledge exchange, situational awareness, and action. The actions and results don’t make it back to the network in some cases. I may learn something her that causes me to initiate an activity that results in a success. Unless I share that success, the value of the network is not seen. A colleague compared this to an iceberg. We see the tip, but we don’t see the entire iceberg. Any thoughts on how we measure the below the surface outcomes of social networking?

steve davies

Hi Kim

I like this very much. Implicitly, at least from what I can see, your network competency model indicates that there needs to be alignment between what is done internally and externally. I mention this as, for the most part, in Australia there is greater comfort around the use of Gov 2.0 technologies with the community than there is over the use of these technologies by public servants within and between agencies and, indeed, jurisdictions.

Clearly there is a need to integrate at that level so I would suggest you make that explicit. If your model does address that issue elsewhere all well and good of course.

Keith Moore

I can not take claim for the authorship of the book “Mathematics of Innovation” or the associated blog posted by Plish, but in the context of this discussion on an integrated framework for business and web 2.0, I thought you all would find there to be some connection:

The Mathematics of Innovation
Posted by Plish on December 18, 2008

I’ve been reading and re-reading The Innovation Equation . It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.
One of the things I love about this book is that they define Innovation with an equation: Innovation= Creativity x Risk Taking.

I think there is merit to this formula as I also believe, with the authors, that true innovation is possible for anyone.

Being the person I am, I decided to dig deeper into this formula and try stretching the mathematics to see what can be learned from its manipulation. (If you’re math averse, please skip to the bottom for the DISCUSSION).

Innovation doesn’t occur out of the context of time, so I figured, why not differentiate the formula with respect to time and see what impact that has and what it can perhaps teach us about innovation. The formulas are below:

By differentiating we can determine how Innovation changes with respect to time as Creativity and Risk Taking change with respect to time. I summarized the results using various functions in the table below. The lines represent the rough shapes of the curves of what the variable is doing over time. So a straight line means the variable is constant over time. A slant means a linear increase. A curve means the form of y= ax^2 + bx +c (but it could be a higher order as well but thiswould impact the results)

So what does this all mean?
A- When Creativity and Risk Taking are constant in a company, Innovation is constant. This means there is no Innovation Velocity and no Innovation Acceleration

B- When Creativity is constant and Risk Taking increases over time, Innovation increases because of Risk Taking. This means Innovation over time changes at a constant rate – the Innovation Velocity changes. There is still no Acceleration.

C- When Risk Taking is constant and Creativity increases over time, Innovation increases because of increases in Creativity. This means Innovation over time changes at a constant rate – the Innovation Velocity increases. There is still no Acceleration.

D- When Creativity over time is increasing in a non-linear second order fashion, and Risk Taking is constant over time, Innovation increases, Innovation Velocity increase linearly and Innovation Acceleration stays constant. But there is Acceleration!

E-When Risk Taking over time is increasing in a non-linear second order fashion, and Creativity is constant over time, Innovation increases, Innovation Velocity increase linearly and Innovation Acceleration stays constant. But there is Acceleration!

F-When Risk Taking and Creativity both are increasing linearly, Innovation increases, Innovation Velocity increases and Innovation Acceleration stays constant. But there is Acceleration!

DISCUSSION: In those cases where there is constant Creative output and constant Risk governing strategies, Innovation occurs but isn’t accelerated. In fact, it’s not moving, dynamic Innovation. It’s Innovation by definition-that’s all.

Dynamic Innovation (Innovation Velocity) is constant or increases only when Risk Taking gets riskier and/or Creativity increases. There needs to be a constant effort to either get riskier or be more creative to get Innovation moving. The problem is that according to the research of Dr. Byrd, as people get more encultured by the corporation, there is a tendency for creativity to decline (p.127) – they become prisoners of their culture. Innovation will suffer as a result.
Is it possible to Accelerate Innovation? Yes, but it’s not easy. You either need Hyper-Creativity, (second-order or higher Creativity), Super High Risk Tolerance (also of the second-order or higher), or everyone firing on all cylinders (which is probably the likelier path). Even when this occurs, though, Innovation Acceleration is constant.
So what’s the take away?

Remember, Risk Taking in most corporations rarely gets more aggressive with time and success. If anything, it grows more cautious. There may be times when this or that project may be more risky, but somewhere there are usually safety nets. If a project is too risky it gets killed. The implications of killing projects and the signals sent by mitigating risk can directly impact creativity in a negative way and based upon the results above, we don’t want that! After all, if Risk Taking is constant or declining, Creativity is all that’s left to keep Innovation moving!

There are two solutions.
1. Individuals start exercising more risk and go out on limbs to keep projects going. If they succeed, great. If they fail, unless the company knows what it means to be innovative (and too many companies aren’t sure), the person pays the consequences and again, Creativity could take a hit on the Corporate level. Death Spiral…

2. Start treating each individual as a unique source of brilliance, training and enabling people to be more fully alive, fully authentic humans who utilize their creativity freely. (The culture that does this is itself being creative–a two-fer!)
When confronted with the choices, can we afford not to start investing in the creativity of people?

I, by the way, subscribe to this principle and power of creativity,people, risk taking, and connecting this what I call “investment” to the power of Networks. In fact I believe that is how the Net truly Works!

Adriel Hampton

Good stuff, Kim! This line struck me – “Can the agency break the threshold necessary to incentivize citizens to participate?” – and I’m glad that you articulated business goals such as continuity. I think that some agencies are not made for inspiring citizen engagement, but they certainly can benefit from enterprise functions that smooth out succession planning and better leverage business intelligence.

Kim Patrick Kobza

Comment by Kim Patrick Kobza just now
Delete Comment Comment by Kim Patrick Kobza 1 second ago
Delete Comment How fulfilling to have so many thoughtful comments. Thank you. Let’s build on each:

(1) Keith Moore. Keith, very creative and cool thinking. Love the innovation metaphor. As a former economist/statistician, my personal bias often gravitates to building the regression to determine what is statistically relevant and important. In the case of citizen networks, I think that we are probably collectively in an infancy stage of understanding. That is one of my personal motivations for advancing a simple network competency framework – to help understanding.

Without belaboring the whole model, one of the key points related to your comment, is that often we measure what happens in the network – the activity – and declare victory. We don’t necessarily measure outcomes or value conversion that results from the network activity. These are two very different things. See Value Networks. In part, this can be because some network effects are both emergent and/or intangible. But all in all, if we use network activity as the justification for government investment, we will be challenged to maintain credibility.

(2) Steve Ressler. Steve what you do so very well and I would argue the key to your success is to provide recognition to members so that they experience personal value. This one understanding is grossly lacking in many if not most agency sponsored networks.

(3) Michelle Lyons, thanks! Your point on the breadth of outcomes is critical. There is a big difference between organic and structured networks. Having some basic understanding of a universal framework is critical.

(4) Joe B., Measurement is the holy grail. The difficulty is that there are tangible and intangible values. The key for all of us is to make sure that we are measuring the right things. Measuring network activity alone won’t get us to result. Measuring value conversion – how we convert that network activity into outcomes that we can actually use is critical. One can have a vibrant network and no value conversion (meaningful outcomes) and will have failed. The actual measurement process is highly involved. We have spent several millions of dollars building data warehouses and reporting mechanisms and are just scratching the surface of what is possible. But I will try to expand on the measurement thematic in the future.

(5) A.J. Malik. AJ. How cool to see you. Long time no talk! I love your example and diagram and am going to study it a little more. One of the recent works that I have been reading that has been very helpful is “Connected” by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. A key concept in groups (networks) that they summarize is how and why the influence within networks (3 degrees) is less than the degrees of separation (6 degrees). The 3 reasons: (1) Intrinsic decay. Inherent signal degradation (accuracy declines), (2) evolutionary purpose (changing purpose causes people to lose interest), (3) Network instability (people always move on as social attention changes). The takeaway is that networks are largely dynamic so the design has to be thought of in that light.

(6) Steve Davies. Welcome to our friend from down under. I always have been impressed with the IAPP2 chapter from Australia – had a long night with several members at the national conference about 3 years back in Madison Wisconsin where we compared notes. You have touched on a paradigm that goes far beyond what we can fully develop here. Suggestion: The way to solve the internal network problem is rather than to build it as a stand alone network, build a hybrid network that meshes the internal employee network and the external public network. The success of the public network in generating data/usable inputs, will draw participation on the internal network – otherwise the internal networks will simply be seen as “another collaboration tool”. The only catch is understanding that by using hybrid networks there have to be multiple means of establishing information rights management – the internal teams have access to a different data set than the public (which often sees a subset of project data) by design (just as in the real world). David Bankston and I hold the U.S. technology patent on public communications in hybrid networks. It was a bear to architect and develop.

(7) Adriel – great to see you as well! What we are seeing at all levels, commercial and public, is that it is very tough to break the threshold. That bar is set very high with all of the competing networks in the world- social and otherwise. Peter Block in “Community”, The Structure of Belonging, advanced a thought that was very useful on this point. Block’s thesis is that participation is inversely proportional to granularity of modules of participation that we ask from citizens. If we define a problem as solvable in many small parts, we build higher levels of individual participation than if we define problems as really big modules that require long term sustained involvement.

The other theme that I loved in Block’s book was his insight on the role of leadership and citizen responsibility. Given your experience and interests, I think that you would especially enjoy Block, so I recommend to you highly. It is a very easy read.

Again, Thank you to all! I greatly appreciate your time in making these comments

Joe Boutte

Aprreciate the responses. This is a very interesting thread that has implications for CIOs throughout government and industry to act upon or tailor current approaches. I think the network is more than the infrastructure and includes the social elements, which in the model is “member benefits”. The other aspects are incentivization, culture change, and process innovation.