Creating Government 2.0 as Social Business

You might have seen from Anne’s earlier post that the themes for this year’s Social Business Summit hosted here in Sydney on the 25th March are:
  • Engagement – connecting and communicating with your workforce and enabling new processes to emerge through innovative and novel ways.
  • Influence – the need for leadership when responding to the transformational shifts in the nature of work we are all experiencing.
  • Impact – measuring the impact of strategies in terms of engagement, satisfaction, efficiencies and expectations.
If you work in government you might be wondering about the relevance of these issues, but having worked with a mixture of public and private sector clients over the last few years I can assure you that these are challenges facing all types of organisations.
Just like their counterparts in the private sector, public servants are all too familiar with the same organisational and technological merry go round experiences in the workplace. While the electoral cycle brings some predictability to life in the public sector, other events like the global financial crisis and policy changes, like those coming from the Gershon Review, can bring unexpected surprises. And now that the outcomes of the Government 2.0 Taskforce have been published, public servants face the prospect of being expected to engage with the public online. If this isn’t a transformational shift in the public sector workforce, then I’m not sure what is!
Of course one of the ongoing debates in the Australian Government 2.0 conversation relates to the organisational change required to allow new approaches to government administration to emerge and become sustainable. ‘Culture change’ is the catch cry, but the reality is that many public servants have limited direct experience with social media on the Web or even access to comparable technologies inside the firewall.
This is unfortunate because I don’t believe Government 2.0 can be successful in the long term if we only focus on external online engagement. The Headshift/Dachis Group Social Business Design framework acknowledges three broad focus areas:
  1. Workforce Collaboration;
  2. Business Partner Optimisation; and
  3. Customer Participation.
However, these focus areas do not exist separately to each other. For Government 2.0, if we are going to use the capabilities of social computing effectively – in this case online engagement – we need to purposefully align all the elements in the organisation that contribute to its success. In other words, we can not expect public servants to work in an agile way externally (Customer Participation) if they can not do the same internally (primarily Workforce Collaboration, but also Partner Partner Optimisation). In fact, we have a pretty good idea of what Government 2.0 might look like from the outside. The next challenge is to design the new organisational architectures for government agencies that can support it.
Leadership is needed. We need to engage with the public sector workforce. And we need to be able to demonstrate the value this change brings to both the community and the operations of government.
If you are an aspiring Government 2.0 leader and would like to participate in our Social Business Summit, please request an invitation by contacting us at australia@headshift.com.
PS I will be attending BarCamp Canberra on Saturday 6th February – please come and find me if you would like to know more about the Summit, Social Business Design or the Online Engagement Guidelines we created for the Government 2.0 Taskforce.