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From "OpenGov" to "MyGov"

 photo igoogle.jpg 
Photo via abhinavhaibbindaas at Photobucket

It's pretty simple.

Right now the "one government" paradigm is a portal which you can access for comprehensive information --, GOV.UK, and see also Singapore's website.

Imagine a different scenario: MyGov.

MyGov would be similar to iGoogle in that you have an account that enables you to access the portal. It would be as simple as choosing a username and password -- this could be keyed to your social security number for identity verification.

The government would be responsible for

  • Developing the portal
  • Hosting it
  • Posting data sets online

The portal would be an empty shell that could be populated by "gadgets," or modules, of an infinite number and type. These could be created by

  • Government
  • Private companies
  • Citizens
...and either free or paid - similar to an app.

Data would be "verified" with a certain "seal" so that the public would know that it comes from an authentic source rather than a hacker.

Rather than having to hunt for information on a central website, the citizen would have ultimate control over their portal and would be able to access those services they use most frequently.

Additionally, the portal would interface with social media feeds such as YouTube and Twitter so that the person could follow what the government is posting and what is being posted about the government.

Whether the user works with or for the government, accesses government services, or wants information that the government has, this kind of setup would be much easier to use and would likely also boost trust in government.

It is all well and good to make information more available to the public, but at the end of the day that information is useless unless people actually do something with it. While advanced technologists can manipulate datasets, citizen service is about including everybody.

* All opinions my own.

7 Ways To Make Open Government Real

1. Begin with internal communications and radiate that outward. Understand that open government is a fundamental change in mindset for most long-time government employees. They are used to a completely different attitude: "We have the data, you'll wait." Tell them what you're going to do, and then tell the rest of the world. 
2. Get out of the stovepipes - establish an Open Government council.  Organizational change has to be more than just talk. If you want to make it real, build an alternative culture that draws people in and puts them to work doing things another way. The physical manifestation of culture is an actual council that draws from every arm of the Agency. It establishes goals, metrics and standards and most importantly celebrates and champions success. 
3. Define the term "Open Government" repeatedly. People tend to put their own spin on buzzwords. That is not always a good thing. Tell people repeatedly "what we're doing here." 
"Open government is the governing doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight." - Wikipedia
Open Government requires three things to work - per the President's Executive Order:

  • Transparency - expose the inner workings of the government, its data and processes
  • Participation - make it possible for me the citizen to respond and have an impact
  • Collaboration - work with partners inside and outside government to be more effective
4. Explain repeatedly the distinction between "Open Government" and "Leaking Classified Information." This is not an obvious or irrelevant point when you consider the pop culture lionization of figures such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. The government has been pretty tame about making its case, but I am not sure why --  our national security obviously depends on the protection of classified information. Read Marine Sergeant Jon Davis' response to the Bradley Manning question and you'll see what I mean.
5. Educate senior and mid-level executives in connection with their peers. In my experience, executives are comfortable with concepts that their peers are comfortable with. What was once foreign, undesirable and a waste of time becomes exceedingly interesting and important once the competition factor rolls in. You have a great brand - I want a great brand. You are doing social media - me too. You've got an Open Government page - I want one just like that. Plan events at which executives can hear from experts and network with each other to compare notes in person.
6. Establish processes for the release of open data. People are willing to do the work if there is a clear and reasonable process associated with it. This means that the individuals who will be engaged in identifying, preparing, and checking data sets - as well as those who will be doing supporting work for this - must collaborate. Work smarter not harder; it doesn't have to be torturous to be transparent.
7. Think positive rather than painful. Transparency saves a lot of time. Instead of answering individual questions piece-by-piece and getting those cleared, the public can visit a website and never have to deal with you (hint: they don't want to, anyway!) In addition, the public is extraordinarily innovative and will do amazing things with government data if only given the chance. At the end of the day, you want to spend as much time actually running the Agency as possible. Customer service sometimes means getting out of the way.
* All opinions my own.

Are You A Visionary or a Leader? Ask Steve Jobs

The new movie Jobs is out and has crashed and burned on impact at the box office. Even Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak weighed in with some tepid criticism: "I was attentive and entertained but not greatly enough to recommend the movie."

Television has done a better job. This weekend I watched "Pop Innovators Presents: Steve Jobs" on E! It presented, in a nutshell, the highlights of his life, his personal philosophy, his business vision, and his leadership style (or the lack thereof).

The continuing fascination with Steve Jobs is the desire to copy his unique brand of magic. But it's important to point out that he had vision, not leadership ability.

See for example this comment from Steve Wozniak in Gizmodo about the new biopic:

  • "I will add one detail left out of the film. When Apple decided not to reward early friends who helped, I gave them large blocks of my own stock. Because it was right. And I made it possible for 80 other employees to get some stock prior to the IPO so they could participate in the wealth."

Way back in 1987 the book Accidental Millionaire documented Jobs' erratic behavior and abusiveness. See excerpt from a book review in The New York Times:

  • "Many of those Mr. Butcher interviewed, including Mr. Wozniak, say that by the early 80's Mr. Jobs was widely hated at Apple. Senior management had to endure his temper tantrums. He created resentment among employees by turning some into stars and insulting others, often reducing them to tears. Mr. Jobs himself would frequently cry after fights with fellow executives."

In "The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs," his biographer, Walter Isaacson, noted that the business leader excused himself from acting with basic professionalism:

  • "The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality was integral to his way of doing business. He acted as if the normal rules didn’t apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel of his perfectionism."

Isaacson actually had a conversation with Jobs in which Jobs excused his own behavior on the basis of his business results:

  • "I asked him again about his tendency to be rough on people. 'Look at the results,' he replied. 'These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they don’t.' Then he paused for a few moments and said, almost wistfully, “And we got some amazing things done.'

Personally I am moved by Jobs' personal beliefs, and his vision. Who cannot recall the 2005 Stanford commencement speech, which brought me to tears:

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

But I am not moved by the way Jobs treated people.

It is true that the iPad, the iPod, the iMac, and so on have transformed our lives for the better.

But you can't be a leader and also be an abusive person.

"Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition."

No matter what kind of genius you are, it is not OK to mistreat people. There is no excuse.

* All opinions my own.

10 Ways Technology Will Change Your Personal Brand

1. You will master the art of selective connectivity - meaning, you'll be reachable when you want to be and you will use this selectivity as a display of power.

2. You will develop the ability to switch tools rapidly and without excessive handholding.

3. You will develop confidence to question the usefulness of the tools even as others are more fluent in them - to see beyond the gobbledygook.

4. You will consider the world your workspace and disavow a dedicated office, chair and door.

5. You will create your own work:life balance, because technology will make it too easy to work all the time.

6. You will master technology programming to the point where it really does become your virtual assistant.

7. You will network virtually as never before, and it will be hard to tell your work colleagues from your business partners.

8. You will routinely be ranked and rated by the people who interact with you. Your composite score will determine your employability.

9. You will be empowered to start a new business as never before, and disrupt the entire marketplace.

10. You will be largely self- and community-trained and schools with teachers and walls will become a thing of the past.

* All opinions my own.