Social Media Crime Squad

Are you committing Social Media Crimes?

Are you focusing too much of the tools and not enough on the business or social objectives?

Are you using the magic of marketing fluff to seduce people into thinking you are a social media guru or social media expert?

Are you using sleight of hand with statistics to demonstrate increased value?

Are you delivering someone else’s social media campaign, without providing mentoring or coaching so they can learn to manage this in-house over time?

Are you promoting the use of twitter and Facebook when you constantly demonstrate that you are ineffective at using them yourself?

Are you talking in jargon in order to sound clever and sophisticated?

I know of at least 3 organisations who adopt this approach, I’m guessing there are a lot more and they will increase…..please stop….the local government community is better than that…show us some respect and don’t take advantage of a bad situation.

We are watching, listening and taking notes…
Social Media Crime Squad


Unblock Access – ‘Social’ is Key to Improving Performance

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.


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

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.

Social Media points the way for Corporate Website Development

I have had a draft web strategy written for some time now as i need to finish off a few extra bits which will hopefully complete the picture. One of these areas is the technical architecture required to deliver the desired outcomes.

In looking into this and speaking to several of my more knowledgeable ICT colleagues on this topic it occurred to me that what we really want to do is to follow the social media approach. I’ll try to explain what i mean and include some pictures to help me.

Firstly, it is worth trying to explain what i believe the future is for local government websites and online service delivery. I must stress this is my view and does not reflect the views of my employer.

Social media is allowing us to see how people prefer to use the Internet and what features, functions and opportunities they prefer to have available to them, as well as the seamless use across multiple platforms and browsers for example, PC, notebook, PDA, Mobile, iPhone etc and this will in my view increase.

What is also interesting when seeing what social media offers is that most if not all of what it does is allow people to select and dictate the relevance of the content and services delivered to a given browser.  It is also coupled with the fact that people are also at the same time connecting with other people and allowing information to flow through their networks.

So social media is providing choice, relevance and connections, if you throw in the trend of local and hyper local and in a local government sense the drive toward Total Place. I see a model where corporate websites are essentially delivering packages of “information and services” into the wider Internet community or even social networks. This would essentially allow people to participate in particular topics, based on their preferred community.

So a “package” could be a specific service on its own or a collection of other services based on a geographic or specific community (see end of post for community types).

For example I live in Exeter, so there could be a “Exeter” package which would contain a set of services (Not just local government services) but a set of relevant location focused services. Part of the personalisation of that package could be my specific postcode and therefore a more local neighbourhood context (hyper-local). Or i may just be interested in service such as transport, which would allow me to access the travel to work information based on my preferences (think of the google maps (from here to there scenario) and the information would be displayed based on those parameters.

As a user i would simply select the services within that package which were relevant to me at any given time. For example i would select the following and then have the opportunity to display a combination of or all of the sub services within the package:

Service based packages

  • Schools (location, for admissions, term times, governor info, school news and access to my child’s school performance data etc)
  • Transport (location, for public transport info, roadworks, travel information, car tax,)
  • Environment (location, planning, waste collection, recycling, graffiti, fly tipping etc)
  • Health (location, local dentist, GP’s, pharmacies,  NHS direct etc)

Alternatively you could deliver geographic based packages

  • Exeter
  • Newton Abbot
  • Barnstaple

These might be presented in the style of widgets or gadgets, an example of how this might work on a website or even within a social network application is on the BBC website – The key thing is to allow and facilitate a deeper level of customisation within that widget itself – the only thing the BBC widget doesn’t facilitate which would be essential is mapping function which would allow you specify your geography (travel to work, school run etc)

BBC News Widget
BBC News Widget

This essentially combines local and national information within a single package. This would require everyone to develop in such a way that allowed mashups and web services with information related to the following community types.

The types of communities that we need to understand in terms of matching services and information to are in my opinion the following:

  • Community of place are people who are bound together because of where they reside, work, visit or otherwise spend a continuous portion of their time.
  • Community of interest are people who share a common interest, pastime or passion.
  • Community of circumstance – is driven by position, circumstance or life experiences rather than a shared interest. An example could be a Cancer sufferers support group.
  • Community of position – is distinguished from a community of practice community in that it tends to be more personally focused. This community is built around life stages (such as teenage years, university/college student years, marriage, or parenthood) provide individuals with the opportunity to build relationships with others during that particular phase of their lives.
  • Community of practice – refers to the process of social learning that occurs and shared sociocultural practices that emerge and evolve when people who have common goals interact as they strive towards those goals.
  • Community of purpose – people who are going through the same process or are trying to achieve a similar objective. Such communities serve a functional purpose, smoothing the path of the member for a limited period surrounding a given activity. For example community’s purpose revolves around allowing people to accomplish something they want or need to do whether it’s buying something, selling something, fixing something, dating, or the like.

What i believe is that the increasing complexity of people’s lives is being amplified with social media in such as way that the most important things we as information and service providers need to think about is how we manage and classify our content in such as way that whatever the situation, whatever the search, the right content appears and is delivered to a user. If that means it is joined together with another organisations to give context or to give it additional purpose then we need to facilitate that.

This will no doubt require a change in architecture for some councils towards a more flexible Internet service delivery framework.  This type of framework essentially provides the opportunity to allow a councils content and its services to be delivered to a presentation layer (combination of html, mobile and ditv) as well as to other platforms such as facebook, twitter, iphone app store.

This isn’t rocket science and it certainly isn’t new but in the context of social media it allows us to provide relevant content and services not through pages and groups or friends but through applications which allow a greater deal of interaction directly with us as a service provider.

Internet Service Delivery Framework
Internet Service Delivery Framework

The future looks very exciting from a user perspective and very scary from a local government web team perspective, however it certainly looks like it going to be a lot of fun getting there.