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Friday Fab Five: Storytime, Trusting Your Gut, and Why You Suck at Networking

Happy Friday, everyone! You know what time it is. It’s time for the… Friday Fab 5!
That special part of the week when we take a look back at a few of the awesome blogs, forums, quotes, groups, and members here on GovLoop. If you think they’re awesome too, go ahead and congratulate them (links to posts and profiles are provided). Making the Friday Fab 5 is not an easy feat!

Today’s Blog of the Week goes to project management guru

Josh Nankivel and his blog post “Why You Suck at Networking.” Admittedly, Josh doesn’t actually know the level of your networking skills (who knows, you could be a networking master), but it’s still true that networking is not an easy thing to do. It takes dedication, persistence, and lots of concerted efforts in all kinds of social situations- and for many this doesn’t come quite as naturally as it does for others. The opportunities to build your personal network abound, but no matter where you are, it’s important to keep in mind that networking is not an event, nor is it about meeting the most people or amassing the most business cards. Networking is about building real relationships with people. As Josh says:

Networking is a process, not an event. Too many people see networking as something you do when you are looking for a job. That is soooo wrong.

The goal of networking is to build a relationship with people by being likable and helping them get what they want. When you do this consistently over time, the relationships you build will be available if and when you need them. Referrals, mentoring, encouragement and support, you name it.

The Top Forum of the Week goes to

Andy K and his discussion question “Is ‘Trusting Your Gut’ a Viable Decision-Making Method.” Surprisingly, this discussion was posted only yesterday, and already has collected an impressive 14 comments with more and more people joining the conversation every hour. I’m sure most of us have “gone with our guts” in one form or another, and none would argue that in certain situations it is of course a viable decision-making method. But how do you define when, where, and how it is indeed viable? Are public servants allowed to engage in such quick, unmitigated decision making? What about elected officials who make rushed decisions on behalf of their constituents? As you can see, while your initial answer might be of course” there is more to consider, particularly if you are a government employee. I’ll let Andy introduce the real question at hand, and then head on over to the

Analytics to Outcomes group and add your own thoughts:

Usually, those decisions need to be made quickly with very little time given to analysis. “Execute. Iterate.” seems to be the guiding mantra of our time.

What ever happened to “Deliberate” and “Evaluate” as the two bookends of that approach?

According to Gladwell, too much analysis — either in the planning or in the post-mortem phases — is overrated or needs to be minimized.

But that way of thinking runs counter to the aim of this group and the typical approaches to problem-solving in the public sector, which is prone to risk mitigation and avoidance in order to protect public resources.

So what you do you think?

1. Should public servants “trust their guts” more in the decision-making process in order to speed time to execution?

2. Or should you continue to carefully analyze and take more deliberate (even if they are painstakingly slow) steps to achieve desired goals and outcomes?

The Most Active Group goes to none other than the

Analytics to Outcomes Group. There was actually quite a bit of group activity this week (honorable mentions go to the

Knowledge Management Group and the
Sports Enthusiasts Group) but in the end, Analytics to Outcomes won out, and in large part due to the aforementioned discussion about making gut decisions. Analytics play a huge part in pretty much every organization, but how do you take those numbers and crunch them into practical and effective actions? It’s often easier said than done. So if you’re looking for a place to discuss what it takes turn your analytics into real solutions, and learn from your peers, look no further!

Our Quote of the Week comes to us from

Steph Gray and his blog post “Telling Stories with Data.” There is no doubt that data visualization is in high demand right now, and is a clear indication that the public’s method of consuming information is changing. So what effect is that having on journalism at large? If people would rather look at a map or an infograph, how does this play into how we communicate emotion and story? Is the style of journalism of yesteryear dead? Well as it turns out, no matter what the medium, telling a story is still a necessary part of any form of communication. It’s just as easy, if not more so, to find poorly presented infographs and data graphs that skew facts as it is to find a newspaper article that does likewise. Whatever your feelings are on data visualization, check out Steph’s thoughts from a recent conference he attended on the subject:

We explored the contrasting, but potentially complementary goals of supporting more in-depth data interrogation or analysis, vs presenting and communicating engaging stories, including the potential data visualisation has to:

We took in

Edward Tufte’s sage advice from the pre-PC era for presenting data, too:

  • Have a story to tell
  • Choose formats carefully
  • Combine words, numbers & drawing
  • Ensure balance and scale
  • Make complexity accessible to the reader
  • Deliver the visual to a professional standard
  • Avoid decoration (the famous ‘chartjunk’ of gradients and lines he so despises)

And finally, Rockstar of the Week goes to EPA Webmaster and IT Specialist

CollabNature. While we are fairly certain that “CollabNature” is not this person’s true identity, it doesn’t make her activity around the site any less awesome. Both this week and last, CollabNature has shown her enthusiasm for public service as well as GovLoop from asking about

Adobe certifications in the

Adobe for Government Group, continuing the

NGG Haiku thread, and even encouraging everyone to have a “GovLoop Day” via a recent status update. Also, if you’re feeling down after a long week of hard work, take heart in Collab’s response as to why she works for government:

I am “Purpose Driven”, it is a privilege to serve through environmentalism and technology!

So way to be awesome CollabNature (if that is your real name…). Keep doing what you’re doing over at the EPA as an official Government Rockstar!


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