For me, one of the most powerful memes of Government 2.0 is breaking down barriers between officialdom and the public. Like, why fight City Hall – you own it, don’t you?
In the past few days, I’ve had the humbling experience of having two friends name me as one of their favorite public servants. (As regular readers of my writings here and on Twitter may have picked up, I’m a local government employee among my many social roles.) This kind of praise goes a long way to validate what I’m trying to do with my blog, and many of my public activities. I want to help restore trust in an honest, innovative and effective public sector.
We are the government, and as Gov 2.0 tools show us as human with our own attributes (and mortgages), then there will be positive responses, even without policy agreement. A faceless government is dysfunctional.
It’s been my experience that ppl genuinely appreciate any public official who actually listens. And I agree w/Barry that agreement isn’t necessary to make a positive impression.
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of air conditioning technicians as the guy who was regulating the refrigerants they were going to use to replace freon, to save the ozone layer. The room was packed and hot, and their mood was not friendly (to say the least). They were all dressed in their work clothes because it was on a weekday evening. So here I come in my suit.
First thing I did was take off my jacket and invite them to take theirs off. They understood it was a joke, we all smiled, and as I rolled up my sleeves, I started talking about why we were doing what we were doing, how we were working with, and regulating, multiple industries, not just theirs, and how they were part of an international effort.
Some of them still didn’t like what we were doing by the end, but they made a point of thanking me for coming out to talk to them, saying their impression of the gov’t had improved as a result.