Kerry O’Connor – Lessons from an Unconventional Career

The description below has been selected as one of 12 finalists for the Next Generation of Government Training Summit Speaker Contest. To vote, simply sign in to your GovLoop account (Not a member yet? Sign up for free now!) and then click the big ‘Awesome’ button at the bottom of the post. Everyone is encouraged to vote for as many lightning speakers as they deem worthy, but only one vote is allowed per description per profile, so don’t forget to tell your friends to offer their support as well!

Personal Information: Kerry O’Connor, Department of State

Title: Lessons from an Unconventional Career – follow your curiosity, transform your skills, and become a 21st century government innovator


At the U.S. Department of State, I manage an internal employee ideation forum, The Sounding Board, to enable employees to submit ideas on reforms and improvements.
My journey began as a foreign service officer overseas, wondering why operations were needlessly difficult. Why didn’t headquarters understand us better? To find out, I followed my curiosity back to Washington, where I became a management analyst, working on reforms. At this time, I started studying IBM’s Innovation Jams – massive online collaborative conversation to explore and solve problems. When I heard Secretary Clinton announce at her first Town Hall that there would be a website where employees could post their ideas, I sat in the audience wondering who would run it. Within hours, I found myself helping to design the program that would provide access to the conversation that my former self wish I could have had in the field.

Three years later, we have 55,000 users, over 3,000 ideas, 30,000 comments, and 66,000 votes. We have developed different engagement models from storytelling, to best practices, to problem-solving. I also co-chair an interagency ideation community of practice that shares tips and tricks for establishing and improving employee ideation programs.

NextGov: The Many Mothers of Invention
Federal News Radio: How to integrate social media into your agency

Don’t forget to VOTE for this story by clicking the AWESOME BUTTON below.

Check out the other finalists stories:

Andre J. Castillo – “The Making of a Government Ninja: The Story of How a 25-year-old new Federal Employee Created His Own Empire and Became ‘Famous’.
Michael Gale – “Nature 3.0 – Using Technology to Connect People with Nature
Michael C. Lawyer & Anthony Soriano – “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bureaucracy
Joseph Linhart – “Rethinking the Federal Family
Kerry O’Connor – “Lessons from an Unconventional Career – Follow Your Curiousity, Transform Your Skills and Become a 21st Century Government Innovator
Emily Sadigh – “Put the “Action” in Your Action Plan
Sabrina Segal – “I’m the Superhero of Information Sharing
Teresa Shea – “A Journey Into Blindness: The Blind Professional
Leonard Sipes – “Accomplishing Public Relations Goals Through Podcasting and Social Media: Demystifying the Process
Tiffany Smith – “GovWhispering: How to Be an Effective Enterpreneur in a Bureaucratic Environment
Mark Sullivan – “Working Together for Our Veterans
Allison Wolff – “Failure is an Option

P.S. Hope to see you at the NextGen Training Summit, 7/26-27. 500+ Gen X/Y govies, topics from workplace savviness to public speaking, speakers from OMB to Olympic medal winners.

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