Kujawski made public his presentation to the Public Service (at a CSPS armchair discussion).

(at the end is where all the blogs are for the Government of Canada)

(at the end is where all the blogs are for the Government of Canada)

Certainly the presentation wasn’t for those familiar with blogging – it was for public servants starting to find out what blogging is about. Why would I attend? When you’re very immersed in something, it’s not always easy to lift your head above the water and talk while your eyes are still filled with water. It’s always a good skill to develop, how to express things succinctly, clearly, simply. This is why I attend presentations on Web 2.0 – to get those palatable repeatable bite-size messages that I can convey to others. The statistics, figures and broad examples help too.

This is the main gist of my impression of Mike’s presentation.

Because of the audience and broad subject matter, he also couldn’t go too much into detail, which would’ve helped me. Lumping together external, internal and private blogs all together (because they’re all blogs) may have been enough to explain simply what blogs are, but trumps the reflection of public servants thinking about the next step. “Go ahead and do it.” Mike says. “Do what?” I ask.

Then I would point to my last weeks’ post – and ask you to write up your proposal and hand it in.

But before you can complete it, you need to know what your blog is for. Which is where I see Mike helping to do the first of 3 steps:

  1. Educate: What is this whole blog thing?
  2. Purpose: Why do we need a blog?
  3. Action: How do I get a blog?

So, alright, thanks Mike. Now onto point #2.

#2: Why do we need a blog?

Unfortunately, this may not be the same question you have in mind. This question is not asking for an answer, but is an exercise to elaborating what the purpose of the blog is, so if you are asking this, we still have the following problems:

  1. You still haven’t been reading enough blogs;
  2. You haven’t found or been faced with a problem at your department that can be resolved with a blog.

To try to find a purpose for a blog is putting the cart before the horse.

The blog is the solution.
Otherwise it will fail.

A blog can be many things, but a blog can be everything and nothing. Many corporate blogs go unread because they are just re-hashes of press releases.  They just scream information, without being the start of a conversation. There’s a place for press releases on a corporate site, and it’s not in the form of the blog.

Mike touched on this, and it is an important point. There are more than enough blogs out there for all the web surfers. It’s not about engaging everyone, but focusing on a target interest or topic.

Each GoC department have a slate of  narrow policy or service offerings. Human Resources, Immigration, Transportation safety, Public service training. The possible audience could be very engaged on this, I’m sure they would be attentive to the government blogging about their own successes, areas of study, future considerations, requests for input.

I’m sure there are public servants who run into situations thinking “you know what, I think a blog would help us engage/get our message out/demonstrate our successes/build a community.” These people are ready for:

#3: How do I get a blog?

Now you’re ready to fill out my Blog proposal that I posted last week.I don’t expect Mike (or many others) to address the internal rules and policies that, err, “shape” (as in possibly ‘limit’, ‘compromise’ and ‘direct’) the technological tool considerations…at least not until after the case for blogs is made, and there is (possibly) support from the top.

Key: Support from the top

I reiterate that I believe strongly that support and leadership from the top is necessary, it’s crucial. To adopt Web 2.0 tools, one needs support to navigate the policy mine-field of risks, to realise the benefits of the rewards. There is precedence for this.

Currently the only explicit formal support “from the top” (the Privy Council Office) for the public service for Web 2.0 comes in one paragraph from the Clerks’ last annual report to parliament, regarding the use of Wikis at Natural Resources Canada:

Technology for collaboration at Natural Resources Canada – The department has used state-of-the-art information and communications technology to promote collaborative approaches to work. Creative use of podcasting and blogs, and the experimental use of “wikis” in developing briefing notes are helping to break down silos, and engage younger employees.

15th Annual report to Parliament

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), who in my opinion are the Google of the Government of Canada, have an excellent wiki implementation, and the tools I’ve heard about being developed sound just amazing. How have they been able to do this? Support from the top.

Cassie Doyle, the Deputy Minister for NRCan is an enabler, supporter and engager of Web 2.0 tools at NRCan, and the resulting change to the department has been evident. As part of her department-wide renewal effort, she elaborated a commitment to “collaboration technology to enable knoweldge management” (Canadian Government Executive, Oct. 2008, p. 6).

I also don’t think there is a chicken-and-the-egg scenario either, that I have heard from some attempting Web 2.0 practitioners trying to forward Web 2.0 in GoC. “We’ll get support from the top when there is adoption of the tool. And people will adopt the tool when there is support from the top.” I don’t agree. Get support from the top, the rest will fall in place. It’s possible the tool just doesn’t work, but if the tool doesn’t work, you still won’t get support from the top either.

Conclusion

Thanks Mike for the presentation. Here’s everyone’s homework:

  • Continue to research Web 2.0 tools; Reflect on their possible use in GoC.
  • Propose Web 2.0 tools at your department; Propose again; and again.
  • Request support for your Web 2.0 tool development;
  • Bug Communicate to anyone you know of the need for Web 2.0.
  • If you are a Deputy Minister or ADM reading this: Communicate your support for Web 2.0.

Thank you.

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