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