In the past few weeks, I have witnessed some meaningful development around the use of social networks in my Department, and the government in general.
It started with my meetings with the people from Values and Ethics - the same people who dealt with the complaint filed against me about a year ago after I released “An Inconvenient Renewal” (if you have missed it, see my postings on the topic: here, here and here). We didn’t get into all the details of the investigation (or “fact-finding exercise” as they call it), but they acknowledged that they were a little overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with my case a year ago. A lot has happened since then: some learning has taken place, and the efforts of the government to bring Web 2.0 into the workplace has gotten many people to be a bit more open-minded about it.
The good thing though is that my case kind of set a precedent that was necessary to get senior public servant to a) think about the impact of Web 2.0 on the way we run our organizations and b) ponder the opportunities and risk involved in giving employees a space to voice their ideas and concerns about the public service in general and PS Renewal in particular.
In fact, I was just tasks by my superiors to look into the best practices surrounding the use of discussion boards and other alternatives to allow employees to discuss PS Renewal matters and voice their thoughts on the topic. There seems to be an awareness that there are risks involved, yet the benefits can offset those risks and therefore the initiative is worth pursuing.
I have also been asked to provide some kind of guidance to the employees of my organization with regards to the use of social networks. What could be the most interesting thing about this exercise, is that we do not seek to forbid the use of social networks, but rather educate employees about some of the implications of sharing information about work on sites such as Facebook and others. We have yet to issue the communication to staff, but I find we are taking a very progressive direction. If we go that route, it will strike a nice balance between being cautious and harnessing the power of Web 2.0.
Hopefully, this will serve as an incentive for more public servants to interact on existing websites related to the federal public service and PS Renewal.
On that note, here are three interesting postings about blogging: