The National Audit Office (NAO) wrote in its surveillance report 9.6.2010 (F) about the missing results in information society.
For some reason we're good at planning, strategies and all that other stuff on paper - but we don't seem to be able to move on to concrete results. What's stopping us?
The missing communications
NAO pointed out the missing communications: " The site Arjentietoyhteiskunta.fi (F, some content also in English) has been updated quite passively and there is no information on the work of different working groups." (translation mine)
I'd point out missing target groups, too. My experience is that a new site only comes to my knowledge in three ways:
These three need to be taken care of in communications. Of course, things are already quite a lot more "findable" and open than just a few years back.
I can still recall the day Ota kantaa (F) was introduced in our office. What a thrill: this is the beginning of an new, open era! But then, the discussions grew thinner and thinner. The topics stayed somewhat distant (even for a fellow civil servant). So what can you do; if it's not your thing, there is nothing that would draw you back.
Today the site looks good and the topics are interesting. Moderated discussions are off, at the moment.. Anyway, let's take a look (at the links that unfortunately are solely in Finnish).
"Discussion is closed" -page has a link to .. project site.. at the site of the Prime Minister's Office. There's a loooongish text.. And there! On the right you have Read more -link to.. a third page, with a pdf, press release and - this is good - a video release.. And on the menu bar on your left there's the Web discussions -link.. Nope. Nothing new there: it takes us back to the press releases..
Although I pretend to be pointing out things with my finger, my wish is that together we are able to improve the user experience on these sites. It's no good to seminate links and web pages unless the entity is meaningful and takes the surfer to the goal that has been promised.
Do I have all the Right Answers? Of course not. But I do want us to begin the search for the better together. The main thing is to talk about all this, so that more and more citizens find in to our mutual search.
Missing openness in communications
Communications in public sector is missing timeliness and openness. It often feels like the only signals of life are official releases (missing the concreteness) or registered requests for official statement on this or that. The subsidiaries then come to attention and start churning out the official mumbo jumbo with high respect.. Is this level of interaction acceptable in 2010's?
On the other hand, openness and activity are on the rise in the Facebook. A few hundred fans support Vertti, virtual master of the Ubiquitous Information Society Facebook page (F).
The person / function / ministry behind this Vertti creature is quite bashful: he or she doesn't want to come out. (THE topic at the moment: should public sector officers give out their names in the social media or not).
On this page you can discuss anything about the information society. Do share your suggestions, ideas; give a prop, challenge us, make a comment or an argument. The forum is yours. -Facebook - Data (F, translation mine)Quite an encouraging message! Yes please, I'd be happy to participate. Here are a few top links I've found eg. on Gov2. Are you guys with me; or what do you think? No answer. Silence. For some reason Vertti really is shy.. Perhaps we haven't been introduced properly?
I can't help it: I would so love it if the Official Oracle of the site would, in the spirit of the social media, make even a small nod stating: "I heard you". Because, that is the only way to have a dialogue. I talk - then you - then I respond - your turn.. connecting, communicating!
We must remember, though, that IRL (in real life), all the representative meetings between different ministries or boards are still far from spontaneous communication. It is perhaps the tradition (not noblesse) that obliges civil servants to behave like a bunch of mummies at a cocktail party. Or, even worse, like in a play where loyal servants race to praise the prevailing circumstances as if there is nothing to improve anywhere in life..
Just like in that fairytale of the Emperor's New Clothes! Only.. if it's not proper to point out the failures, there will be no change.
For a revolution you need..
It's not that we don't have networks: we do know each other, we do business together. Email is floating with stuff to and fro. The point is that it is oddly missing the hottest topics, the ones that are in the middle of the change and demand crowdsourcing in order to improve further.
Is it possible that the civil servants still don't dare to communicate in a less official way? "I have no authority to be the one to talk about it, yet", is that it? There are just the home page to be updated in a somewhat passive way and the official press release to be published.
Why? Is it unclear responsibilities? Undefined content? Lack of courage? I say, Work 2.0 needs a revolution for
Without the new approach, communications is like a relay where no one told the runners whether they're running 4x100 or 4x400 tracks. Bound to drop the baton, eh?
This writing is an intentional wake up call. Even though I've *gathered this evidence* as a representative of my employer, the opinions and poking questions are mine and mine alone. Thus this post does not represent the positions, strategies or opinions of my employer.