#LocalGov #Content Strategy Group now live on Knowledge Hub

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Back in January at UKGC12 Sarah Lay and I said we would create an online community space for those interested in Content Strategy for people in and around government.

It has taken some time, for which we make no excuses other than we have been reflecting on which platform to use to best suit the immediate and future needs of the group. We considered a range of options but have settled for the Knowledge Hub.

Please join and sign up if you are interested…Sarah and I will be facilitating the group, but if others wish to help out then let us know in the group itself.

Digital Content Strategy Group

The ‘digital content strategy’ group has been created as a community space to discuss issues around delivering digital in local government and specific practice around web and digital content creation, curation, delivery and governance. This may include issues around web content, user experience design, content across different platforms, search, social media and methods of delivery and governance such as Agile working and devolved authoring.

We need to stop feeling so guilty and the birth of #twitternar

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Yesterday evening I participated in a conversation with @LouLouK @kazwccsocialnet and @808Kate about how the #lgovsm Friday lunchtime discussion session could improve and develop and increase the opportunities for people as well as ensure variety.

Now I’m not going to talk about the future development here in this post as we are also going to chat more at #ukgc11 on Saturday and then more will no doubt be shared etc afterwards. Feel free to join us for a chat about this on Saturday if you are attending – I think we suggested an informal lunchtime chat (even more informal than the open plan aspect) – not sure where just find one of us and join in.

So two interesting things happened during the conversation, the first being the creation of the term #twitternar (by yours truly) – it is like a webinar but supported via twitter and possibly slideshare or a blog posts – the second being the more important one – whether participation in the discussion is considered work.

The discussion touched on the issue of whether people who participate feel like they can contribute more during a lunch period or whether this just contributes to the perceived view that twitter is merely social. A comment was made that you could perhaps feel guilty if you participated during work time.  I have a few issues with this but can more than understand why this is the case for the majority of people.

1) Would phoning another public sector organisation to ask them what they are doing or to share what you were doing around a particular subject or topic be considered work or something someone would do in their lunch break?

2) Would attending a meeting with another public sector organisation to ask them what they are doing or to share what you were doing around a particular subject or topic be considered work or something someone would do have to schedule during a lunch break?

I think it is fair to say that these are generally considered a core aspect for most people’s jobs – using twitter to do the same thing which is what #lgovsm is really trying to achieve in my view but at a much reduced cost is a great idea. However the benefit is that using twitter means that no one will have to travel, some can participate whilst on the go (mobile) and there is really no limit to who could participate or attend – surely a win – win situation.

This is a new approach and a more cost-effective and efficient method of doing this. The conversation accepted that perhaps twitter might not be the best platform but we also accepted that the #KHub would offer new opportunities on top for increased discussion after the initial #twitternar.

So all I would say to people is Stop feeling so guilty and try to see this as a cost-effective way of doing what you would do anyway.

Unblock Access – ‘Social’ is Key to Improving Performance

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The issue of whether an organisation blocks or bans access to social media platforms has always been an interesting area. When speaking to colleagues in other councils who are not able to access, a common reason why access is blocked is due to a perceived fear that staff will simply waste time “messing about” or “chatting online”. It has been a personal desire to look for an approach which directly links the success of an organisation to the use of or at least access to social tools.

Without having any direct evidence – I’ve had to look to theoretical models and frameworks which help to explain the relationships between an organisations performance and the ability of staff to use and engage with social software, social media, enterprise 2.0, social business or whatever the current trend is for naming the variety of tools available.

Last week however a key part of the puzzle presented itself, in the form of a set of slides which I linked to in my previous post by Richard Veryard.

This is my current view is the all public sectors organisations need to unblock access to all social tools (external), and promote the use of social tools (internally) otherwise they restrict and reduce the chance for the organisation to improve its performance.

Given the current financial and organisational pressures facing the whole public sector, improving performance would be a key priority. The very least we would all agree that reducing barriers to improving performance should be a priority. This is where I now firmly believe that Social is the key to improving organisational performance.

I’ll try to give some context to my thinking by referring to some of the slides that Richard posted. I apologise in advance for some of the complexity in the following paragraphs  – believe me I have tried to keep it as simple as possible without losing the meaning :)

In “Modelling Intelligence in Complex Organizations”, my observations and interpretation of some of his slides are as follows:

Slide 5 – Cognition only makes sense for individuals
As individuals we seek out data/information, in doing this activity we essentially bring a meaning to that data/information and in turn provide the interpretation  and therefore we create and often share an understanding.
Organisations can not perform the same tasks, as organisations can only aggregates the collective view of all people within the organisation by bringing together  – perception, knowledge, learning and intelligence. This in the past has been restricted either to formal systems which require facts and statistics and would not include people’s views and opinions. The social element to an organisation would be in the informal social networks facilitated by water coolers and coffee machines.

Slide 7 – The illusion of individual performance
Individuals perform tasks which are supported by a variety of systems, the slide highlights 3 examples, but in a public sector context, this is even more relevant. For example an individual local government officer has a complex system environment, which could include Peers, Press and Media, local demographic, local political influence, national political influence, training, policy framework etc.

Essentially an individuals performance is the result of the ‘systems’ own restrictions and ability to achieve and facilitate outcomes.

So what I’m thinking in relation to this is that when an organisation restricts the “social” element within it, it actually restricts the ability of the system and the individual to achieve better outcomes. By providing “social” tools the organisation gains access to a greater organisational intelligence. I believe that the Knowledge Hub would in fact allow the public sector organisational intelligence to grow and in turn help facilitate better outcomes across the whole sector.

Slide 20 – Intelligence Strategy
In my post Move aside Intranet, here comes the super powered Extranet I share the vision for my authorities intranet/extranet and considering this new viewpoint, what that is contributing to is in fact the organisations Intelligence Strategy. The main benefit of integrating the Knowledge Hub into the core infrastructure of the council is the increased connections that it provides for each individual member of staff. It will provide them with a larger organisational intelligence system and my conclusion would be that this contributes directly to better outcomes for citizens and improved services.

In the second set of slides “How Can IT Fix the Problems of Stupid Organizations?” – I have thought about the wider linkages to a range of core business activities and capabilities which are and will become more critical in public sector environments even if they choose to adopt a commissioning agenda.

Slide 23 – Tools for organisational intelligence
The key challenge for publica sector organisations are not related to individual issues such as business intelligence, social networking, knowledge management and even customer relationship management (CRM), but are in fact how you plan and architect the links between these kinds of tools to achieve and facilitate organisational intelligence.

So the main takeaway for me is that ICT can directly improve the performance and intelligence of an organisation – however an organisations architecture needs to be designed with this outcome in mind otherwise you will fail to deliver the benefits.

Conclusion

I would recommend that any public sector organisation who is blocking access rethink that decision and consider how there organisation facilitates organisational intelligence and improved performance.

On a practical level, staff who abuse access should still be subject to existing policies around employee code of conduct – but the potential for a whole organisation to improve its performance and increase its intelligence far outweighs the risk of one individual mis-using an internet connection, which they can also do via their personal mobile phone.

The Amazing Technicolour Self Directed Learning Tool

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Yesterday I published a post asking for help from you all to help me develop a Personal and Self Directed Learning Tool. Thank you to those of you who have contributed stuff so far. Today i was making it look a bit better than a simple black and white hand out.

Whilst I was searching for inspiration on the look and feel, I found the Conversation Prism developed by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas, a picture of which is below and the picture will take you to their website which they have developed. I remembered seeing an early version of this back in 2008, it has evolved quite a bit and looks amazing if you ask me.

Now I’m not trying to re-create this directly  – As i’m really after creating more of a subset or alternative viewpoint aimed in particular at Public Sector employees to support their personal and self directed learning. However I have to give credit to Brian and Jesse for the idea and inspiration as I obviously can’t claim what I have done is original, but more of an adaptation. (I’d love to know what software package was used to create the prism as I used Photoshop and i’m not particular good at using it but it does a job)

I haven’t yet gone as far as including the actual tools within my version yet, as i’m still thinking how best to display them, what I like about the conversation prism is the use of the logos, but i’m wondering if that will work for some quite informal public sector forums or discussion groups? Maybe a combination of both will work? What do you think?

Anyway the “hopefully” more colourful version of my tool is below and I have made a decision to have 3 layers representing “professional”, “semi-professional” and “social”. The centre still at this stage represents the “intranet”, however I would hope that in the very near future that this could actually represent the Knowledge Hub, as it very much delivers the same outcomes and facilitates the same journey.

Self Directed Learning Tool - Colour

If you saw the previous version yesterday then you might notice that I have added an additional two headings which are Research and Reflection, this was due to feedback from the workforce development team and looking back at my first scribble, I had actually made a note of these two but forgot to include them – Doh!.

Any comments or thoughts on how you might use this to help colleagues in your council navigate the web for professional or social sites aimed at supporting one or more of the activities around the edges, I’d very much welcome your views.

GartnerSym – SharePoint 2010: Is It Enterprise-Class?

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My day so far has been a bit scattered as there have been supplier sessions interwoven between Gartner sessions. I’ve also allowed some time today to actually write some of the reports I’ve been tasked to produce on the back of this – although I’ve been primarily been putting in placeholders as my brain needs a bit more time and a nights sleep to make sense of some of this stuff.

Anyway this post is about Sharepoint 2010.

The first thing that struck me from the session was the Strategic Planning Assumption shared by Gartner Analyst Regina Casonato:

By 2015, SharePoint will be as popular a platform for enterprise content applications as the iPad and iPhone are for consumer apps.

So i tweeted a comment along these lines which lead to quite a good mini discussion about “what was really meant by this” < My tweet is below:

Gartner Analyst Regina did cover the improvements in Sharepoint 2010 since 2007 and broadly major improvements to search and integration have been made and some improvement to workflow have been made, but i still ask myself is this really enough?
In terms of the Gartner Magic Quadrants Microsoft sit in or near the top right quadrant for ECM, Portal (internal) and Social software (internal) < Whilst you can’t ignore the dominance, it still doesn’t quite feel right considering that we were also told that Sharepoint is and i quote Gartner Analyst Regina here
“Basic social computing tools are “Good Enough” to challenge tactical suppliers”
However for local government and in this current economic climate can we really think about this level of investment or should we being more innovative and radical and consider shared options across the sector, something like the Knowledge Hub project is something which came to my mind and this lead to another interesting side discussion in twitter about whether we should consider making strategic decisions about IT on this scale without really knowing what the shape of our own organisations will be in 12-18 months time.
A very brief  summary would be that Sharepoint 2010 is better than Sharepoint 2007 but is just average at most things which overall means it could be good enough < each organisation needs to work out what value this would bring and whether or not they are prepared to accept the risks and issues associated with large systems.
Update: The views above are observations and people should check out the full features list of sharepoint 2010 to ascertain what value and benefits can ben realised in their own organisations