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What’s Your Government 2.0 Personality Type?

This has also been cross-posted on my primary blog, “Social Media Strategery.”

Over the last few years between starting the social media practice at Booz Allen and getting involved with the broader Government 2.0 community, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a ton of different people, all with different motivations, frustrations, and aspirations. While sitting through seemingly endless hours on my flight back from Hawaii, I got to thinking about these different Government 2.0 personalities, and attempted to categorize them here below.

Edgerider – You are always looking for the latest and the greatest Internet meme, idea, and initiative. You’re an early-adopter of all things technology and were at the forefront of the email, Internet, and personal computer waves. You own an iPhone and either already have, or are eagerly anticipating buying a new Netbook. You’re a big Government 2.0 champion now, but will move on to some other shiny new thing when the Government 2.0 meme inevitably bores you.

Innovator – You’re a tinkerer who can’t stand seeing an opportunity go to waste. You’re a workaholic not because you love your job, but because you see a small chance to make a difference and you always take that chance – the problem is that you have trouble letting opportunities pass by. You tend to suffer from both FOMO and HOLI. You may not have been the first one in your office who recognized the potential of Government 2.0, but you were the first one to actually do something about it.

Rockstar – You are the loudest voice in the room. You’re the one who happily volunteers to give the Government 2.0 briefing. You’re the first one to raise your hand and challenge the person who’s speaking at a conference. You’re loud and you’re confident, but more importantly, you’re incredibly knowledgeable. However, you are also a little ADD – you tend to get involved with a LOT of different initiatives without diving too deep into any particular one.

Risk-taker – You thrive on pushing the envelope and rocking the boat. The status quo is boring to you, and as such, you’re always looking for opportunities to make things better. You’ve most likely been in your current position for more than a year and have built up a certain amount of trust among your colleagues. You think getting reprimanded for something at work is just part of the job and not necessarily a bad thing. Your Government 2.0 involvement is predicated on you “being the change” whether you should be or not. You’re still learning that change isn’t always the right answer.

Salesman – Rather than jumping right into the Government 2.0 movement, you bided your time and did a lot of reading and thinking. You are deliberate and entrepreneurial and have developed a piece of software, a platform, or a website that is meant to help the government, but is ultimately meant to make you or your organization money. You would do well to shift more of your energy away from selling your product and instead focus more on providing value to the community.

Realist – You’ve been there, done that. You’re more than likely older than most of the other Government 2.0 people out there. You understand the challenges that the government is facing, and you recognize that Government 2.0 isn’t going to happen overnight. While this realism is needed, it also gets you labeled as too conservative and pessimistic. You don’t get too excited, nor do you get too down – you’re the steady hand that is more than likely managing a Risk-taker or an Innovator.

Laborer – You are the “do-er.” You’re the foot soldier who’s drafting the social media policies, who’s gardening the internal wiki, and who’s developing the briefings, talking points, and speeches for the Rockstars. You aren’t interested in being a member of the Goverati and would rather blend into the background. You are probably well-respected for the Government 2.0 work that you do, but not many people know about it. While arguably the most important group of people behind Government 2.0, you receive little to no fanfare.

Skeptic – “Why the hell are you spending so much time on Twitter and Facebook when you could be doing real work?” You don’t see the real business value to social media, and would prefer that your staff stick to the mission-related activities. You’re conservative and would rather just do your job and go home. You don’t like change, and you’re probably the one who’s pushing to see metrics and ROI of social media. You’re not necessarily opposed to social media, but you just don’t see the value yet. Because of this, you’ve become an adversary to the Risk-takers, Innovators, and Rockstars, but you could offer real value in a Devil’s Advocate-type of role.

Thinker – You’re not on Twitter, nor do you maintain a blog. However, you ask a ton of questions and do a lot of reading about social media and Government 2.0. You look up to the Rockstars and the Innovators, but your conservative and private nature keep you from putting yourself “out there.” You see the value of Government 2.0, but prefer to deal in the theoretical, rather than actually doing it. You have a job totally unrelated to social media, but want to be involved, as long as it’s on the periphery.

Techie – You’re an IT developer, web programmer, enterprise architect – some sort of IT guy/girl. You’re an avid World of Warcraft player, and have been using forums and online bulletin boards for more than a decade. You know the difference between UNIX and Linux, and easily get frustrated when people ask for your help with their computer. You’re responsible for actually creating the software, platforms, and websites that the Rockstars use, that the Innovators dream up, that the Salesman plugs, and that the Skeptic told you was a waste of time. You wish you had more say in the strategic development of Government 2.0, but aren’t sure how to get involved at that level.

Opportunist – You got involved with Government 2.0 because you saw an opportunity to make money, enhance your career, or build your business. That’s your first and primary goal – if you do something good for the government too, that’s great, but if you do something good for you, that’s even better. Your motivation is on using Government 2.0, not in being a part of Government 2.0. You are probably one of the most active and vocal people in your organization and in the Government 2.0 community, but because of your motivations, you also present some of the biggest risks. You and the Skeptic do NOT get along.

Bystander – You have no interest in Government 2.0 or social media. You’re happy coming to work, doing your job, and going home. You value your work/life balance, and aren’t interested in anything that infringes on that. You’re not opposed to Government 2.0 – you might even see the value in it at a holistic level – you’re just not interested in getting involved.

What’s your Government 2.0 personality? Would you categorize yourself as one of the above or would you create another category?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Nice post, Steve – and fun! I hate to call myself a rockstar, but by the definition above, I think that’s where I’d fall.

Jacque (Brown) Myers

I wonder why you gave that particular category the Rockstar title?!? It doesn’t by any chance have anything to do with where you fall on the list?

Seriously though, I think a good Government 2.0 team has people who fall into several of these categories – each providing a unique perspective to drive successful Gov 2.0 efforts.

Timonie Hood

Hi Steve,

I’d add another category for myself (& I think a lot of new Gov 2.0ers)

Networker – You see a critical aspect of your government role as information sharing and helping connect the dots to empower others in and outside of government to make things happen. Networkers have extended contact lists and actively share information — often through listservs, email, and presentations. The Networker sees the potential of Gov 2.0 but may be less tech savvy and greatly appreciates advances in access and user interface that support greater networking opportunities.

Keetah Salazar-Thompson

I’d have to agree with the Networker category…for my co-workers and myself, it seems that our use of and push for greater integration with Web 2.0 revolves around these kinds of needs.

Steve Radick

@Jacque – I think you’re right. I think that each of these personalities play a role in the Government 2.0 ecosystem. The key is that we know and understand each of them, rather than dismissing them as “wrong” or as an impediment to progress. Get to know what makes each of them tick and then learn to work with them.

Teri Centner

In the steveradick.com comments, I suggested Evangelist/Cheerleader. I think Timonie Hood’s Networker is another good way to describe what I was trying to get at.

Steve Radick

@Timonie and @Keetah – That’s a great addition. These are the people who help take small initiatives and allow them to emerge and go enterprise-wide. Their connections and collaborative nature are much more valuable than the actual technical skills. I’d rather work with a Networker and teach them the technical how-to’s rather than try to teach networking to a Techie.

@Mark – thanks so much!

Steve Radick

In my career evolution, I think I started out as primarily a risk-taker, then moved to Innovator and then to Rockstar. I don’t think I fit into any one of these right now, but rather exhibit qualities of all three. One of my goals this year is to get more involved with the Skeptics and bridge the gap that has existed between them and the other types on this list.


Agree with everyone that this is a great post!

I’d have to say I’m the Innovator….hate to let a good opportunity pass by!

Teri Centner

@Steve, Good luck with the skeptics! I find that many of the IA folks (but not all) fall into that category 90% of the time.

Andrea Baker

I’ve got stuff in multiple boxes, but I am honored to be related to the Innovator, in a way. At least that is what my new customer has told me to do.

Michele Mulholland France

Excellent post. You are missing one key category. Protector/Worrier – You have enough brains to understand the potential but enough of the skeptic, techie, and thinker traits to worry about the IT security and public perception implications. You do not want to have to explain to parents of a critically ill child at the NIH that their child’s treatment plan/Rx was @#$% because of security holes from Facebook. You do not want to be presenting important information in front of an advisory board and have “griefers” scroll across with obscene, hateful language.

Dory Dahlberg

Great post. I believe I’m an Innovator currently in a Laborer position, with a side of Networker. I’m going to share this post with my colleagues as I see nearly all these personalities being represented in our team. The variety of personalities makes for well-rounded discussion, however it also means much more time and effort spent to bring projects to fruition.

Michaela Holmberg

I think that some people can fall into multiple categories. Maybe it’s because my unit is smaller than most but I see some of these as being more “stages” in the whole social media craze than specific people.

Steve Radick

@Michaela – I would agree with you that these aren’t necessarily meant to be singular personality traits, and I think that many of us, especially those of us who are considered “power Government 2.0 users” can, and probably should, fall into several of these.

@Moira – thanks! Appreciate it!

Jeffrey Levy

Fun post! I’d add “Ambassador,” which is how i see myself:
You’re a rockstar at the core, but you lead by talking to everyone, not claiming ownership. One minute sees you talking code with a techie and the next has you explaining why all of this matters to a skeptic, while your inbox contains a long exchange with a realist and an innovator about how to get your edgrider friend to slow down long enough to give the laborer time to put something in place.

Cary Casey

Great post Steve…I would fall between The Networker and the Risk-Taker. I figure if you don’t take risks, you can’t effectuate change.

Gabriela Dow

Sounds weird to say “rockstar” but that seems to fit the bill — except not just “a little” ADD 😉