Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Allow other public servants their own Gov 2.0 and social media journeys

At an event with colleagues last week, I overheard several talking about their surprise at the levels of caution and fear they still encountered amongst various professionals regarding Gov 2.0 and social media.

"It's as if they were still living in the early 1990s," said one. "Some people just don't seem to understand how far technology has advanced, nor the level of work and learning that has gone into social media strategies in the last five years or Gov 2.0 in the last year."

I strongly sympathised with this view. As I have spent a significant share of my waking time in the last fifteen years learning, developing and testing new media strategies and solutions, it can be hard at times to realise that others don't have the same level of experience as me.

One of my most valuable learnings has been that not everyone is at the same point in their Gov 2.0 and social media journey.

Many have been busy 'looking' in one of many different directions - finding them so interesting and fulfilling that they may simply not have noticed what has been going on in other directions - such as in social media or Government 2.0.

Now they have turned their gaze to Gov 2.0 for the first time. They are starting at the beginning and haven't had the same learnings or experience yet.

While it is tempting to try to pour my own experience into these people to help them get up to speed, this is rarely a workable approach. Nor is providing them with a full map of the social media landscape, this can simply scare them into inaction.

Instead they need to travel on their own journey to Gov 2.0 understanding.

The best way those of us with more experience can help is to scout just a little way ahead. Help them see the pitfalls (that they can recognise) and assist them to overcome obstacles they encounter in their path. Occasionally point out branching tracks they may not have the experience to notice but they might like to consider, and allow them to come to you when they have new questions and insights.

Is this a fast way to get people up to speed on Gov 2.0? Not really, but it works. And sometimes they will surprise you with insights far beyond your own ideas or experiences, helping you on your own Gov 2.0 journey.

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