Should I have posted this?

My boss and I had an exchange last week that a couple hundred people overheard because it happened online: I wrote a blog about having a bad week at work, and she responded.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if her post made me feel uncomfortable or whether I was fine with it. I gave myself a week to think about it, and to absorb insight and advice from others (thanks!). A lot of people don’t understand why some of us use social media to have conversations. Some people have told me to lay low, not continue this dialogue online, not say what I think on Yammer or Twitter (which people are increasingly using in our organization).

Except…many people are talking about their work in the public service, online (like on Govloop). And I think it’s great. So, I’ve decided to keep doing it. This is why:

  1. I want to practice what I preach, and what I preach is that open government is the way to go. As public servants, we have an opportunity to model being open and transparent. Pushing comfort zones and re-defining boundaries is needed to affect change in the world. The transition from closed to open is going to be uncomfortable and create some tensions for politicians, citizens, etc. If I’m going to be part of the change, then I’m going to have to accept feeling uncomfortable myself, and making others uncomfortable sometimes.
  2. I like virtual water cooler chats. Microblogging enables those little sweet diversions that inspire and connect dots and people.
  3. It provides an opportunity for more trust. Here’s my logic: if Nick and Rueben never started blogging and Steve hadn’t started GovLoop, then I’d be less likely to ask them for help with my work. The online dialogue they’re engaged in gives me insight into what they think and value, and I can see that we care about the same things. People who tweet and yam and blog do so not because it’s in their job description, but rather, because they are genuinely passionate about some aspect of government. And if they’re passionate about government, chances are I have a few goals and values in common with them. I trust that we’re on the same team even if we don’t always agree. I trust that when we disagree, we can talk about it, and still work well together.
  4. It makes me feel part of a bigger team. I like getting tweets and yam updates about what people are working on and thinking. The mosaic of updates helps me stay focused on the big picture of what we’re all doing as public servants. This bigger team includes my organization, public servants in general, and anyone interested in open gov.
  5. It provokes thought and therefore creates reality. Artists write and paint their stories, and through those stories, they create and reflect a shared understanding of the world. Govloop and other social media sites are places where we can share stories. Pieced together, these narratives create patterns and define direction, in turn creating the mold for the future of government. I want to be part of that story.
  6. I like creating waves. Online conversation isn’t for everyone, nor is it appropriate for every conversation. But, if we don’t test out the waters (and yes, maybe cause some waves) then we’re going to stay on the status quo shore. And there is something better than the status quo. There has to be.

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Heather Coleman

Great post, thank you for sharing. I too want to be a “part of that story”. I heard a great quote from Matt Bado awhile ago whenn discussing some of the cultural differences between the generations and the use of social media, he said (paraphrasing slightly) “It used to be that owning information meant you had power, nowadays sharing information means you have power.” I’m all for sharing information and eliminating silos. Why have the same question asked of the same person a million times – yam it and let everyone see the answer and eliminate some of the repitition and wasted resources.

I’m sure the idea of having a boss respond to a blog venting about work makes a lot of people’s hearts race, but bravo to you for putting it all out there and practicing what you preach. I know some people prefer to keep their work identities and personal identities separate when it comes to social media, but mine are one and the same. I am who I am and I like to think I’m not doing anything in my personal life that would have a negative effect on my work life.

Srinidhi Boray

Idealism is a very strong quality, without which public service will not find much motivation. I have faced lot of opposition to vocalizing thoughts much in the open, unless it is politically corrected and diplomatically grafted ensuring it is speaking a lot but carefully telling only that much truth as much as it is allowed. Dialogue is something that makes human – human beings. Without a dialogue humans will be left with only meaningless pursuits. Since, to dialogue means to seek “meaning”.

Yes, given the nature of the corporations that exists today, workers need to have the consent of the management to seek meaning and truth that is something in return for having been provided with a job. Sublimated acts of coercion leaves offices with deafening silence with meaningless mute winding corridors, in the maze of which robot like humans are found wandering in desultory.

Keep the dialogue on, that is the best medicine for mind to defeat atrophy.

Keeping on…Keep on ….

Robin Farr

Late night (for me) thoughts:
– I like your list. I think all of those things are okay, and it is helping me to understand your perspective and your rationale for the way you approach your work.
– Is this constructive dialogue for you? It is for me. I think this is a much more natural way for you to communicate than it is for me, but I actually like this type of exchange and I’m okay with doing it in a more open way, especially when doing so allows me to see others’ perspectives as well.
– I want to ask you what made you feel uncomfortable, but maybe I’ll just wander down the hall tomorrow 😉

Steve Ardire

One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.
– E. M. Forster

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.
– AA Milne

Rumon Carter


As will come as no surprise, Steve’s Milne quote below resonates with me and makes me proud to observe that you are one of the first-rate thinkers in our organization. This post, to my mind, does a fabulous job of articulating the value of self-publication and collaborative media – required reading for our colleagues that question that value, perhaps?



Srinidhi Boray

@Robin @Nina – You guys in Canada, I hope same thing begins to happen in US. 21st century and we still are wondering if it good to open our mouth and put foot all the way in. At this time I have an email in one of the Fed Agency, unfortunately not the job 🙂

Few years back I had run into one such email trail happening at eBay. With lot of seniority discussing company stuff. I could not reproduce it again. For some reason they had few of their conversation out in the open, especially about the policies regarding rating and such concerns about the eBay customers. That I thought was very interesting that many of the company folks from different functional domains were conversing to arrive at some resolution.

Amanda Blount

We all come from a world of many people playing head games, and “politics”. You have no idea how refreshing it is to see you and your supervisor just laying it out on the line. Basically, you two are forming a commuication thread which will last you two a lifetime.

There are many stages of forming groups; “The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing is a model of group development, first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has become the basis for subsequent models.”

You two have already worked in and out of the first three phases all at once. WHAT a concept!!! Just get all your feelings out on the table, no hard feelings, now let’s get the job done. I love it!! I wish all meetings and people could work like this.

I don’t have to be your best friend, but I do need to respect that you are different than me, and this we will need to address to actually get work accomplished. I hate mind games, and am always in the hot seat because I tend to tell the truth about situations. But, you two are telling the truth, and going back to your own to corners to think about what was said. You don’t fight about it, you figure out away to work around the issue and make it work. I LOVE IT! I salute you both.

When can I move to your office Robin?

Robin Farr

Amanda, any time! We can always use more great team members.

As for your comment about group formation, I think you’re totally right. We blasted through the first 3 stages – we’re firmly working on norming, and I have no doubt we’ll get to performing in short order. That’s a great perspective – thanks for sharing it.