I love new co-op students. They come in with fresh ideas, inquisitive minds and interesting perspectives on the public service.                               Roadblock signs

After only two weeks on the job, our most recent student remarked that he is starting to understand the “pace you folks need to work at” in order to get things done.

Clearly diplomacy is already something he has learned. After some prodding it became clear he has already met one of the government’s more familiar entities, the roadblock!

That’s life in the government, get used to it.  Sadly that is ‘advice’ given to freely and without thought of the possible effects that will have, especially on those just starting out or considering a career in the public service. 

Don’t sell them folks.  I have a little more faith in what we can do for it is not the ‘government’ that puts these roadblocks in place, it is us, the public servants.

And so, over coffee, my simple comments to him – if there’s a road being blocked, find a way:

  • Can you move it on your own? Take a bit of time and energy and do it.
  • Will it take more than you have? Find someone to help you – maybe work is already underway that will make it easier.
  • A little more substantial? Get a group willing and make it happen.
  • And the kicker – no matter how many people have try, is it going to require more?   Find the person(s) responsible for putting, or keeping it there and work it out. Perhaps it is no longer needed or does not need to be as obstructive? Can the size be downgraded from a roadblock to a speedbump?

A simple breakdown but does it really need to be more complex?   I was happy our discussion then led to the importance and value of collaboration, community and tools that can always help.   

But, at the heart of it is the recognition that each of us can and should do what we can to make the road ahead smooth and better for those yet to come.

Of course a smart question followed, wouldn’t it be easier to build a new road?  Perhaps, but it that always better?

Onward.

M.

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Over the last decade or so of my toiling away in the government online world, I’ve often joked about the need for web champions to don capes and prowl the halls bringing attention to the potential of the web and the ‘super’ people bringing our sites to life.

My thinking has evolved. Gone are my longing for capes – it’s now time for the pace bunnies! The gun’s been fired and departmental wikis, internal blogs and online communities are all off and running. Settle in folks, this is a long marathon, not a sprint.

There are some who were already out on the course when these tools appeared at work. Others are happy to try and keep pace and improve along the way while some will forever be trailing behind.

Now, I’m neither an expert nor an early adopter – I have labelled myself as a “utility adopter.” I’m in it for the long haul but still look to those setting the pace up ahead to keep me in the pack.

Through my use and championing of our internal blog, which serves as a litmus test for our readiness to share, other teams have asked that I share my experience and help show them how these tools might help their work, which I’m happy to do.

It all boils down to the same thing – know your audience. I won’t grow frustrated with those lacing up their shoes for the first time, it’s a refreshing jog for me and I always learn something. I’m energized by those ready to speed up a little bit and really test the road. And for those who are ready to leave the pack, I’ll likely point them to the pace bunny ahead and wish them well.

Are you a pace bunny or do you need one?

Onward,
M.

Well, the end of the year is here which always brings about a time for reflection.  I expect many focus on their home and personal life.  But how many of you take the time to look at your career and work environment in the government and look at the changes you hope to bring about in the new year?
A colleague of mine has written a very timely and truthful piece about the collective wear and tear those of us working in the government web world are experiencing.  In particular:

“In an environment defined by tapered resource growth and increased demand for expertise we risk stretching our champions too far.”

I share those thoughts and agree with the challenges that risk poses.  I am battle tested and at times, battle weary.  Being a champion means being an ardent defender of your activities; to continually fight for what you know is right, or needed; and to lift those around us up, even if we ourselves feel down.

If we are in this for rewards, many are sure to exit early, become disenchanted or end up as casualties.  With tongue in cheek I often say I’m a glutton for punishment for sticking with the government web scene as long as I have.  The truth is, I love the challenge and the possibilities.   It takes people willing to be those champions and to share those burdens who will help us all emerge relatively unscathed.

As one who appreciates my chats with Nick (above mentioned author,)  his insights and commitment, and as one who has also felt at times that I’m being pulled and stretched, I offer up a year-end suggestion to all who have been toiling away in our government web world – it’s  holiday  time!

Power chord

Fatigue should not give way to frustration.  We are online longer, chatting more often, and constantlythinking and exploring.  It’s time to preflect on the many successes and advances of the past year;  re-evaluate;  re-examine and recharge!

To my Canadian government colleagues – doesn’t it seem fitting for us to look forward to 2010 as our year as the champions?

Onward,

Martha