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You’ve come a long way baby

Yeah, so it’s a me post. Sorry. Something @willperrin said to me today after this afternoons #lgovsm session has really really hit a sore spot. So, naturally, I’m here to share the sore spot. Because I’m that kind of girl. But also because…he had a point. And it’s always the comments which are true which hurt the most.

He said I’d do better if I focused less on social media and more on business objectives.

He doesn’t know. Which indicates to me that quite a lot of you don’t know either. So here’s the truth, plain and simple.

I had never even read a strategy until 12 months ago. I didn’t know our Council objectives until 6 months ago. I didn’t know we had Council meetings. I didn’t know we had an Executive Board. I didn’t know what being a Unitary Authority meant. I didn’t even know ‘local government’ was the correct term for what we were. I didn’t know how it all tied together. I wouldn’t have recognised one of our Councillors if they’d hit me in the face. I’d spoken to a Director (one) once or twice. I usually went through his PA. The PA ordered me around and over saw what I did sometimes. I was managed by a Business Support Manager, and in all but name, I was an administrator. There to make the tea for meetings, do others bidding, not think, not suggest, not have ideas, not hack workflows, not suggest, not get involved in big discussions.

I didn’t in the evenings either. I went home and I played World of Warcraft. I used my brain to level faster, to see the loopholes and quick damage configurations. I didn’t take it seriously, I didn’t really work well as a team in big raids, I wasn’t anything special.

I studied a HND in Business and Finance at university. I failed a module. An accounting module. I kicked ass in the rest of them, but I failed all the same. Didn’t apply myself.

I had a job once, where I managed 15 ppl almost straight out of university. I was in my early 20’s. I got promoted from helpdesk to team leader quickly, and probably would have made call centre manager eventually. Until I took voluntary redundancy after firing people twice my age kind of took the sparkle away and the dot com crash ripped the heart out of a company I was so proud to work for and so dedicated to I drank, laughed and grew up with my colleagues and some of the team members.

I learn fast. Voraciously. I pick up terminology fast. I catch on quick. Throw me in at the deep end and 9 times out of 10 I will swim. But don’t presume I always know what you’re talking about without needing to Google something quickly first. Don’t assume I’ve got a background in policy or strategy or PR or marketing.

I’ve self taught everything I know. It means there’s gaps. It means I’m smart, yes, but it means there are gaps. Understanding social media and digital and where it fits into the larger picture of a massive organisation is something I am still grappling with. I’m still putting the finishing touches to a strategy for the organisation I work for and completing an Executive Summary for it when 12 months ago I didn’t know what an Executive Summary even was. I’ve borrowed someone elses template and populated the strategy from scratch.

I am learning by asking questions. I am learning through taking part in #lgovsm – I set it up as a learning platform for me as much as for anyone else. I didn’t set it up for attention. I didn’t set it up for comment or compliments. I set it up because I needed it and I hoped other people needed it too.

I can write. I can express myself using words. I can wrestle with difficult concepts. But in the process of doing so, don’t assume I understand them, only that I am trying to get my head around something because I just want to know more.

I have never and will never present myself as an expert on anything. I wrote posts and articles from the point of view of someone in the middle of all this beautiful digital magic who looks around and asks questions, who queries the assumed, who wants to know why people have always done things a certain way and how they can be done differently.

I disclaimer every post, because I need to. Because I am not sure of myself. Because I am painfully aware of where I’ve come from, which is nowhere at all. But I am learning, I am progressing and thanks to the help of very very many people I am finding my feet here in this shiny world. But it takes time and everyone has their own pace and everyone is somewhere different along that learning curve – so be patient with me, okay?

Someone asked today, whether I wanted to be an Officer or a Director. I don’t know the answer, the same as I didn’t when someone asked me the week after I started in my current job. Tiger Tiger, burning bright etc etc. What I do have is a complete and utter determination to change things, to make things easier, to make things clearer and simpler, to allow Plain English to reign, to help shape our future so it doesn’t descend into digital chaos, to try and allow the little guys voices to be heard, to hack workflows and change worlds.

I want to change worlds. Big aspiration for a little girl, and I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know why I am like this, only that I can’t switch it off, can’t simply make it go away. So if I have to become a Director to make any kind of different in this world, well then maybe one day I will be good enough. One day. With a lot of hard work, reading, learning and questioning.

Still standing at a crossroads and still not sure which way to turn. But I do know I need to be more strategic and I do need to understand business objectives better in order to play with the big boys. And since that appears to be where I am being thrown, then so be it. I will learn.

It hurt, that comment. But it’s taken on board and acknowledged. But please acknowledge too, how so very very far a little administrator has come.

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Louise K

Hi Andrea,

Agree totally. Our strategy I’m writing does that – looks at aims and objectives of Council and then works out if social media fits. When it comes to engagement, real time emergency planning responses and making it easier to report stuff to us – definitely fits.

Sam Allgood

Louise, is the #lgovsm session on Twitter? I just did a search and got no results there. As my local government’s self-proclaimed social media champion, I would be interested in participating, so when and where?

Louise K

Hi Sam,

I’m really confused – try going to search.twitter.com and doing a hashtag search for lgovsm? You should receive lots of results – the chat continues even after the actual chat has finished! It’s on Twitter at 1pm GMT – if you tell me your Twitter username I can ping you when we start?