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Social Media for Goverment: Is a ‘Just Do It’ Attitude Realistic?
July 13, 2010 at 8:17 pm #105549
Timothy Barnes and Leonard Sipes of the CSOSA lectured about maximizing your mission through social media. I heard someone at the conference refer to them as the Pen and Teller of the government social media world, they’re provocative and fun.
The idea of ‘just doing social media’ was brought up. Meaning, that people can be too timid when it comes to “good government,” and that if you wait to everyone approves the plan, nothing will get done. This sparked a bit of an uproar from the audience. Many thought this was unrealistic, and fairly impossible. Another audience member claimed that it showed a lack of regard for strategy and policy, and could adversely affect future policy and regulation for other government employees trying social media.
Do you think this is realistic or reckless?
July 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm #105559
Reckless but I certainly understand the frustration of waiting around for everyone to get on board with a new program or idea. Sometimes you just have to dive in and take the chance to your career.
My personal feeling is that if you have studied the problem thoroughly, that this is the best solution, and you can mitigate the negative effects from your actions, go ahead. The best outcome is that you are rewarded for being a daring pioneer while the worst outcome is that you are fired for your actions. And maybe being fired is the kick start into a better life and career.
July 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm #105557
I like the idea of just going for it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, especially for mid-level and lower-level employees who have great ideas. We need buy-in for the sake of keeping the peace in our offices, performance evaluations, and job security. Even the greatest, most effective ideas can result in negative consequences for lone rangers in the office. (Maybe I’m just a bit jaded.) We also need buy-in to have access to some of the tools or to get our IT departments to provide any necessary support. And, of course, if there’s any expenditure, there will be levels of approval. I’m not saying these hurdles should be eliminated, just that they do exist.
July 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm #105555
I just got an email from Leonard responding to this. He said: “Quite simply, people are too timid when it comes to good government and serving the public. Sometimes, ya just gotta take some chances and stop playing everything so safe. No one is suggesting breaking the law or not getting the approval of agency heads, but if you wait till all approve, you will never get anything done.”
But I think that this isn’t always posible for mid-level and lower-level employees.
I’m hoping that Leonard and Tim will let us publisht their best practices and lessons learned over the past three years.
July 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm #105553
Unfortunately, the negative impacts of “just doing it” can go way beyond the individual. I can think of several instances over the course of my career when we were in the final stages of gaining formal approval for a new project when lower level personnel, unaware of discussions above their pay grades, plunged ahead without waiting on “formalities”. In almost every case, this resulted in a strong negative reaction from decision makers who had been just about ready to green light the project. Sometimes we were able to walk them back from the edge of squashing the intitiative but all too often promising proposals died an untimely death because over eager beavers were too impatient to work through the system.
July 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm #105551
Peter, I think it’s interesting you mentioned lower level personnel being unaware of discussions above their pay grades. That’s a very frustrating position for lower level personnel to be in, and unfortunately, is not entirely unfamiliar. If the lower level personnel are informed about what’s going on, that issue would be greatly alleviated. On the other side, the lower-level personnel should share their ideas and get some feedback before plunging in.
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