A few weeks ago I did an ignite style presentation about Wake County’s use of infographics in front of a group of large city/county CIOs. It was very well received and it generated a lot of questions from my peers. Government Technology wrote a great article building on our experience and we continue to consider ideas for our next infographic option. But perhaps the highlight came when GovGirl covered our story and her mad design skillz put our infographics to shame. Check out her work here:
I was recently interviewed by Government Technology magazine for an article entitled Do Governments Need Personal Social Media Policies? My short answer to this question was (and still is: “Yes, But…”) In the interview, I described what I felt are several critical components of a social media “policy” that will help to protect both the employer and the employee.
Over the past several years, I’ve fielded many questions on this subject during presentations. Many of the questions I’ve received focus on the legal issues, employee rights and concerns over “brand” image. In fact, the topic is so new and evolving that Ines Mergel and I devoted an entire chapter to the subject in our Social Media in the Public Sector Fieldguide.
Once the article came out last week, several government practitioners appeared to disagree with my belief that we should have such a policy. I did some digging and had some great email and twitter exchanges and discovered that people weren’t disagreeing about the need for guidance – we were actually just hung up on the semantics of the word policy. Many people felt that policy indicated directive control versus guidance. I get that. Based on your organizational culture and the way your organization provides information, policy might be a hard word to take when it comes to the rights of employees. Fair enough. Fact is, I really don’t care what we title it. I use policy because that has worked well for the government organizations of which I have been a part.
Call it what you will: policy, guidelines, code, etc. Most organizations that I am familiar with include personal use of social media in a code of conduct manual/policy/guidelines/handbook that also includes things like what you can and cannot do in uniform (regardless of whether or not you are on duty) and how you can use or not use a company vehicle, etc.
Bottom line is, you need to include something, preferably something that offers guidance on protecting the balance of the organizations goals with the rights of individuals. The article has a couple of examples of suggested verbiage if you need help getting started with it. General experience has been that a common sense approach will address the majority of cases. Provide a wide set of parameters and expectations and then use this policy to manage the exceptions rather than trying to enforce a set of rules that are perhaps of questionable legality and probably will be very difficult to police via technology.
- Be Yoda, not Darth Vader. Provide guidance, not direction.
- Trust people to do the right thing.
- Deal separately with the ones who don’t.
- And call it whatever you want!
Of course I’ve got to start this category with one from my own organization! If you want more history on this one, check our my post over here.
He did a great job of pulling out some of the core elements that we hope to get across to readers with regards to culture change, policy development and the creative uses of social media in government today.
Information Week might be for technology and IT in general, but it is evident that Mr. Carr gets the true value that social media brings to government when he closes his review with: “the very nature of media has changed, and government needs to change with it.”
Last week co-author Ines Mergel and I talked with GovGirl about our new book, Social Media in the Public Sector Fieldguide. The result was a very useful and fun video preview of the book which managed to reference both Zombies and Bigfoot. Check it out below.
Last week I had the opportunity to discuss my thoughts on the evolution of the role of the government CIO with Government Technology magazine. The interview became part of an article that provided an interesting cross-section of opinions from four government CIOs:
- David Behen, CIO, State of Michigan
- Bill Oates, CIO, City of Boston, MA
- Jonathan Reichental, CIO, City of Palo Alto, CA
- Me, CIO, Wake County, NC
Of course we all had our own take on the role and its evolution, but we all definitely shared the common focus of needing to enable organizational goals. We are (or should be) the enablers and the innovators with an eye on the business. I thought it was interesting how much the roles we defined in the article tied back to the article I did back in August called So You Think You Want to Be a Government CIO? (which coincidentally remains as one of the most popular posts I have ever written).
As always, I am thrilled when I am referenced in the same article with heavy-hitters like David, Jonathan and Bill. The popularity of that post of mine, and the focus of this article, reassures me that I am not alone in my thinking about how our roles are evolving. But more importantly, it also tells me that it is continuing to evolve. Everybody is always learning, always growing – and that it perhaps one of the most vital (and often understated) functions of our role!
Today, my co-author Bill Greeves and I received our first copies of the "Social media in the public sector field guide" we wrote for all newcomers to the productive and professional use of social media in government. We started to work on this project in 2011 to capture the legal, procedural, and contextual challenges that are waiting for those brave innovators in government who are willing to venture out and make new technologies and the accompanying behavioral changes work.