Step 4 of My Master Plan Begins

My organization doesn’t like change. I do.

I’ve been taking a patient, low-key, phased approach to transform this organization. Each step I’m taking, I am probing for a path of least resistance. 2 steps forward, 1 step back. It’s constant probing for what is acceptable and what will be acceptable. If you are too radical too fast, your approach won’t be adopted. Your efforts are for nothing in that case.

I identified an opportunity for changing the organization…web technology. Here are the steps so far.

  1. I’ve established myself as the resident technology geek. (This gives me credibility…something young folks like me need to pull off changing an organization.)
  2. I gained editing rights to my department’s intranet page. (This took a few months.)
  3. I created a Twitter account for work. (This isn’t taking off as fast as I’d like.)
  4. Now I’m developing a series of blog posts for the organization intranet.

I know this doesn’t sound like radical thinking, but for this organization it is. There isn’t a single internal blog. The intranet templates are horribly outdated and most links don’t work.

I’m going to launch 3 or 4 posts on Thursday night then I’m taking holiday on Friday. I’ll see if there are any results over the next week. These posts cover topics from using blogs to contracts to knowledge management.

The goal is to start conversations about updating my organization. Hopefully this will inspire some people.

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Sterling – Sounds all too familiar! The organization wants certain results, but I find when I get in there to implement steps, much needed advancements, etc….it is met with resistance. Best of luck and I feel your pain. Stay the course – everyone will appreciate the end results and you will have a sense of accomplishment amidst the hurdles which you had to manuever over (or around ) 🙂

Paul Day

I think you’re doing a good job by acting. It’s a battle worth waging. Changing organizations is hard. It’s better to be self-interested and to help others be self-interested and using social media to facilitate it. When people are excited and engaged in their work and social media is helping them gain a following, that’s when change happens. Changing the organism directly before you change individual is probably the hardest thing to do.

I’m doing the same things as you in my agency with much success and little resistance. Here’s a few tips, if they’re worth anything. I’ve gotten tons of planners and engineers blogging who haven’t done it before. It all started with helping out one of our guys and now other people are seeing it working and they’re latching on.

1) I think you should try to get involved in other people’s work and use social media tools (blogs, in particular) to improve what they do and give them an outlet to share their expertise and gain a following. Maybe it’ll make their work more fun? Show them the way. Make it easy. Start the blog for them and hand it over, “Here, I want to learn about your expertise… post it here.” It’s especially good if the person already has a public following of some sort. We’ve got some people who are so engaged in the public conversation, a blog just makes sense.

2) Don’t ask for permission. Just take a risk and do it. The worst thing you can do is call a meeting to discuss what you want to do before you’ve already tried it out. Maybe your own blog is the prototype, but I’ve gotten things through without having my own blog. I’m the enabler, not the content producer. Play the role of the enabler. When folks start relying on you to be the content producer, that’s no good. That’s just creating more work for you.

3) People resist change and shrug their shoulders when you talk about the need for it. Again, it’s about prototypes. When you’re proposing a new idea, make sure you’ve got an example of it in action. Visualize. Just do…

4) Always say, “this is unofficial”. Don’t make it from the organization or representing the organization. Disconnect it from the agency website so they can do plausible denial. Once you cover those bases, you’ll find yourself free to do whatever you want — especially if the blogging doesn’t involve agency funds. There is nothing to gain from having the agency’s stamp on it. I’ve gotten away with a lot. Walking the gray line is fun.

5) You don’t need a bigger badge or more approval to make things happen. Don’t involve folks unless they need to be involved.

Just some tips, from someone who feels your situation…

Sterling Whitehead

@Paul you’re my new best friend. These are great ideas. I’m definitely going to try to bring on engineers I work with.

Paul Day

No problem, and thank you!
I talk about these things all the time on my blog:

Conversion-Driven Government

Just don’t get too discouraged. Gravitate towards people who are open to working with you. It won’t be everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve had the most success working with folks who I directly work with who are broadly engaged in the agency, and the least success with pet projects that are run by fiefdoms.