Radicalize Your Suggestion Box

While many government organizations are still struggling with the applicability of social media tools to their mission, there’s one area for engagement and improvement that jumps right out: bringing collaboration to the traditional suggestion box.
What are some of the ways that agencies use a suggestion box? What are the benefits and risks of taking the review process from an insular committee to all stakeholders?
Computers have already helped us move beyond the simple wooden box and slip of paper to ideas like online sourcing of budget suggestions and process reforms from citizens and employees.
Taking that process to a whole new level, Web 2.0 tools like UserVoice and IdeaScale open up the suggestion box to internal and/or external stakeholders, enabling robust vetting and ranking of ideas in an open forum.
Any agency with a broad front-line community or stakeholder group – any agency, really – could use these tools to empower employees and revitalize its mission. I encourage anyone evangelizing Web 2.0 and social media to bring these tools to top-level decision makers.
Departments and governments already using this kind of collaboration include the TSA and City of Santa Cruz. What would you like to see?
~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of Government 2.0 Radio.
Flickr photo by drewsaunders

 

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What Comes Next?

An interesting presentation caught my eye this week, and it’s well worth sharing. It’s titled 2015, the web is dead, and if you can ignore a few typos, it’s a powerful look at where infotech is headed – decentralized, mobile, integrated. It also ties in with a point that Deloitte analyst Bill Eggers made on Sunday’s Gov 2.0 Radio podcast: the pace of growth in technology is simply not slowing, creating a period of rapid social change previously unseen.
Imagine taking out your mobile and pointing it at a building down the block and seeing a tenants’ list and key individuals in those organizations with their photos, profiles and recent network updates. Take it further, and you’ve got facial recognition and mobile Web in your glasses (or even in an implant). If you’re in sales, you’ll be pulling info from the cloud on people you meet at a conference. If you’re a law enforcement officer, you’ll be checking warrants from behind the sunglasses.
It’s coming, and fast.

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.

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“The Stargate Trap”: From Politics to Implementation

In a new book that applies systems thinking to complex government initiatives, “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon … Getting Big Things Done in Government,” authors Bill Eggers and John O’Leary describe the moment that a public initiative translates from design to reality – the moment of legislative passage – in scifi terms, as the Stargate. In Chapter 3, “The Stargate Trap” they describe what can happen at that moment:
“The best that can be said of the Stargate Trap is that is sometimes kills bills that deserve to die. More often, the damaging distortion effects on a policy proposal are profoundly negative. Sometimes a bill sits out there and gets picked apart like a wounded animal by opponents, eventually being killed. Sometimes a bill gets loaded with so many goodies and special exceptions to gain the support needed for passage that the final bill becomes unrecognizable from the original idea. Or perhaps the bill is rammed through will little debate. None of these routes through the Stargate enhances democracy.”
This is powerful book because it traces the “big idea” from the political to the bureaucratic, providing myriad U.S. and international examples of both failed and successful processes. But it also confirms many of the fears I have about government process, writ large in today’s California water and national health care initiatives.
I’ll be blogging more about the ideas in this book in the days and weeks to come. Happily, Man on the Moon’s important look at government process is just as readable as today’s business bestsellers – welcome and refreshing in the arena of public policy. It also combats process traps, including the dangers at the Stargate, with action-oriented “Field Guide” sections for success in democratic reforms.
Earlier tonight, Gov 2.0 Radio interviewed Eggers and O’Leary. You can check out that podcast here.

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.

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Gov 2.0 Radio: Bill Eggers and John O’Leary

I hope you’ll join us Sunday night for a very special edition of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast, as we host a conversation with Bill Eggers and John O’Leary, authors of the new reform treatise “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government.”
Eggers in 2005 chronicled the rise of innovative e-gov projects and the potential for tech-enabled reform in “Government 2.0,” a work of research well ahead of the curve. In “Man on the Moon,” Eggers and O’Leary apply process thinking to the sticky business of managing complex public initiatives.
Gov 2.0 Radio is live Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on BlogTalkRadio.

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.

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Gov 2.0: Mission, Tools, Metrics, Teach (The Four Laws of Levy)

I got thinking again this week about one of my favorite Gov 2.0 practitioners, the EPA’s Jeffrey Levy.
Levy is important not just because he’s one of the nicest folks in Gov 2.0, which he is, but because he’s making real strides in creating road maps for integration of social media into the practice of government. One of his contribution is the short mantra, “Mission! Tools! Metrics! Teach!”
You can read Levy’s thoughts on these four points at his blog, Government 2.0 Beta. Whatever your agency or charge, these four points are great to build flesh around. While everybody is hot for Facebook and Twitter, picking tools without looking at mission is recipe for short-lived success.
Are you a small town or local agency? Perhaps a Ning network is what you’re looking for, or a targeted Twitter outreach strategy using something like LocaFollow. Looking for collaboration in a field of practice? GovLoop groups might hold the key. Creating documents or strategy with a far-flung team? Maybe you want PBWorks, WetPaint or MixedInk.
Metrics will also be specific to your mission. I’ll take ten team members working effectively on a multi-pronged outreach strategy over 500 Facebook fans any day. Also consider the New York Times, which recently created Twitter lists for breaking news stories, then dismantled them when the real-time version of the stories quieted down.
Finally, as the Social Media Club’s mission statement goes, “If you get it, share it.” Follow the lead of folks like Levy, who created a simple blog for sharing the stories of what works and what doesn’t.
Mission! Tools! Metrics! Teach!

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.

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Building Community at CA Data Camp

Saturday, Citizen Space in San Francisco hosted the first California Data Camp and DataSF App contest. The event was a great mix of journalists, developers and govies, with an unconference and on-site app-building competition. Sponsor Spot.us liveblogged the event. You can also check out short videos from Craig Newmark and GovFreshTV.
I’ve also thrown together a list of active tweeters from the event.
In the morning session, I talked about bringing “Citizen 2.0” (Facebook group here) social media trainings to traditional activists and groups.
CA Data was a powerful event in that it brought together several sectors around common ideals of collaboration and open government.
Social media and Web 2.0 tools are powerful only in pursuit of a mission. Environmental groups, political clubs, Chambers of Commerce, what kind of traditional partners should the wired to share embrace?

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.

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More Gov 2.0 Blogs

Following on my recent 10 Gov 2.0 blogs to track, here are a few more resources:
Recommended by Gwynne Kostin and Sarah Bourne:

http://blogs.gartner.com/andrea_dimaio – Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio

http://candioncontent.blogspot.com/ – Candi on Content

Recommended by Christoph Berendes (whose own Citizen Tools – http://citizentools.netalyst.com/is worth your time):

http://blog.e-democracy.org/ – E-Democracy.org Project Blog (and related http://stevenclift.com)

http://www.worldblu.com/nowblu – WorldBlue (workplace/organizational democracy)

http://internationalbudget.wordpress.com – Open Budgets Blog

Should have been on my first list:

http://govtwit.wordpress.com/ – GovTwit

Communities:

http://ohmygov.com/ http://dowire.org http://govloop.com http://govfresh.com/ http://governingpeople.com/

~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.

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