I have long subscribed to the belief that our initiatives in the online communication world will eventually change the way the government functions.  From our internal capacity to support a robust online environment to providing public servants with the general understanding and toolkit of web tools that can make them more effective,  more than any time over the last decade I see the Gov2.0 movement starting to shape the new bureaucracy.

How does an organization this size manage this shift?  As someone who manages an online communications team, I’ve seen numerous attempts to address this over the last years – major restructuring, semblances of web governance,   decentralized management and ad hoc committees among them.

For my part, it means this; recognizing the landscape is shifting and that new skillsets have to be ushered in order to effectively, and professionally manage this facet of communications.   This recognition and transformation takes time at an enterprise level.   As those of us working in the 2.0 world well know,  time is a precious commodity and months wasted can lead to missed opportunities.

And so,  I recommend taking advantage of the lack of  formal governance and work to shape it.  If you’re in a position to influence a “2.0’ing” of the bureaucracy – do it!  Those of us responsible for the advancement of the government’s online efforts are the ones best positioned to steer the course.

Create the positions you need, fill them with those ready and able to take on the challenges of an exciting and evolving environment and demonstrate your results, successes and opportunities for growth.

Over the last two years, my focus has been on building a team based not on traditional communication functions or by reshuffling personnel files.  It has been a process of auditing positions, researching and rewriting  job descriptions and having them reclassified to not only reflect the current tasks, but to also anticipate and support an unknown future in new media.

Structure/functions of an ideal web team

Structure/functions of an ideal web team

While I don’t have the number of positions available to me to build that ideal web team (at left)  I remain hopeful that as the 2.o movement spreads, all communication positions will come under a microscope and go through similar exercises.

The web, in just over a decade of real existence in the government, is already at the 2.0 stage with 3.0 already seeping in.  As a result, gone are the communication ‘generalists’ on my team.  I’m extremely proud to now have a “community manager” on my team.  While I won’t pretend to be the first to create such a position, it’s more than likely it’s still a rarity in an organization that should be ripe with them.

Web 2.0 government folk have long championed the need for senior leadership in order to create the foundations and make the advances necessary.  While I don’t disagree with that, I think it will require leaders from all levels stepping up and affecting the change they are able to at their level.  In this case, if senior managers want something new and dynamic, which they will, make sure your team is ready to stand and deliver.

Onward,

Martha

Giraffe Forum today notes the future of Web management is evidence based. There is a reason why McDonad’s, Wal-Mart and Amazon’s of the world continue to succeed – decisions are made based on what clients want. What a profound concept.

Managing the Web in a political organization seems to fly in the face of this wisdom. Perhaps because we are not a Wal-Mart of Amazon and it’s perceived, because no financial transactions exist, that we don’t have real customers. In the world of social media, Web managers must help others recognize the relations based on loyalty, trust, transparency and engagement mean as much, if not more than those based on a shopping cart check out.

How much evidence is needed before it becomes clear our internal governance is presenting us from delivering on that evidence? Usability testing, traffic analysis, focus group testing, online survey, content inventory, we’ve done it all. Now, it ultimately boils down to who manages the Web presence and ensuring decisions are made by those closest to the evidence.

Fortunately, I’ve attended Web governance conferences with Lisa Welchman and have spent a week at the Web 2.0 Expo and have gathered my own evidence. I met with U.S Government Web managers who have been making tremendous strides in the last years and are now looking to continue, energized by a web-savy administration.

These conferences and my drive for decision making based on those we should serve has once again armed me with a desire to usher in a new era of Web management in an organization seeped in political culture. Without adopting the proper decision-making for the management of our online presence, we will be forever cemented in a non-transparent Web 1.0 world, a risky place for the Government to be.

Action plan to come.

M.

New approaches for Web management in the Government

I’m off to the Web 2.o Expo in San Francisco today. I’ve been trying to get to this for a few years and it seems like timing is right with thoughts of government web agencies dancing in my head.

The landscape today enables interactions that were not possible even two years ago….The web as a platform has shown us a new direction. Now is the time to answer the call and make its principles real in your organization, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a brand new startup. These are the times when the most interesting things will happen.
– Web 2.0 Expo

Indeed these are the times. While it shouldn’t be perceived as a revolution, it will take something of a counter culture building within and across departments for the government to embrace the vast possibilities available to better engage with citizens. Improving services, clarifying or developing policy, and communicating initiatives and successes, it’s never been easier.   (more…)

Change management, Web governance and execution.

New designs, multilingual content, social media, usability, program creation and funding, a governance strategy, an execution strategy and team, users vs management…it’s not surprising managing a Web presence in in the Government is exciting, ok challenging.

In talking with a colleague yesterday I was thrilled to hear a major Web initiative in town has a change management officer as part of the team coordinating activities and communication. This was also the case with a university Web team I met recently in Sweden.

Transformation, renewal and new approaches abound in departments these days. Not just using, but having the Web lead all communication efforts is indeed innovative for us and would require major change on numerous fronts. From funding, organization, HR planning and classification, accountability and reporting, to pushing for light, flexible and adaptive (dare I say open source) platforms and tools – we are ripe for change and need to manage that carefully

While the focus in this slideshare is on Innovation Management, much applies.

I’d love to hear about any Web teams or organizations that have moved the management from the Web from the sides of desks to the forefront under higher leadership.

Change is indeed upon us, and dare I say we should manage this one quickly and responsibly.

M.

Much being processed today on several fronts – all interconnected. Within 15 min this morning I read about the Liberals once again missing the mark on the Web front only to be interrupted by a television interview about the new and interactive features of the Afghanistan Website designed to better explain and connect the mission to Canadians.

After topping off my coffee I topped off the morning reading Peter Smith’s great post on Government Web Presences. And so, I went from a shoulder shrug, a sigh, to a pat on the back! I wholeheartedly agree with Peter’s comments in the various approaches typically taken when developing Gov Web sites. Slowly but surely, they have evolve,  for the better in one way or another. For years I dealt with managing a presence structured based on internal org charts, senior management’s likes or dislikes, or their colleagues perceived successes.

Peter nailed it – value measurement! Why? I feel I can now justify almost all work my team does, activities we undertake, resources I request based on that beloved measurement.  By leveraging numerous tools and approaches; usability, statistics, client surveys, SEO etc., a more systematic and client driven Web presence is resulting.  You did well Nomad!

Fortunately, measurement, unlike social media and other terms is something that speaks to senior management.

Next challenge, having a senior manager dedicated to online communications so the song and dance can end!  More to come on that….

M.

I’m thrilled to be speaking with Lisa Welchman of Welchman Pierpoint at the J. Boye Conference: A Knowledge Sharing Summit for Online Professionals in Philadelphia in May. I had the pleasure of attending a couple of Lisa’s masterclasses on Web Governance in Europe last month. While I’d like to think it was my sparking personality and in-depth expertise that drew me to the speakers table, it’s more likely my years plugging away in Government online communications and some key lessons not learned that did the trick.

A great program and lineup of speakers – I’m looking forward to it!

M.