Overcoming small hurdles in digital engagement #localgovcamp

Updated (21 June 2009): @timdavies hosted this session off the back of a post he made on his blog a while back. In the post he listed 50 small hurdles he had noticed through his active research with local authorities into youth engagement.
The session was well attended with a mix of people who wanted to share the obstacles they had discovered as well as ask for advice on overcoming them and share tips where they had been successful.
I made the notes below as the session was in progress and won’t mess with them now. Tim has also put his thoughts about the session in a post and has actioned one of the outcomes – to create a wiki of hurdles and possible solutions people are trying. The more people who get involved in adding information and advice to the wiki the more useful a resource it will be not only to those directly responsible for web / social media / digital engagement within an authority but managers / employees in other service areas too. So, take a look and see if you can add to the dicussion there.
There is also a video of an interview David Wilcox did with Tim straight after the session.

What I blogged during the session (posted 20 June 2009):

First session I am here at today is about the small hurdles to digital engagement:

  • How to get people looking for solutions not presenting them with problems
  • business has to be committed to web / social media
  • technology first never work
  • this technology makes the authority more fuzzy. is a huge cultural shift.
  • one of the issues is about control – so many agencies want to control the space and at hint of loss they demand the experimenting stops and risk assessments etc demanded.
  • the way the public is engaged is controlled, not easy for public to comment back to council’s which is why discussion is happening away from the authority in other spaces
  • the vision is important and stakeholder buy in essential.
  • chief execs etc need to be assured of who will engage and that criticism is constructive rather than just putting themselves out as sitting duck. as principle they want to listen to what people want to tell us.
  • most things happen through a series of small changes.
  • finding someone else who has already gone first opens doors to other areas of the authority
  • need to move to an always on nature. so many projects fail because change doesn’t happen to check online every day
  • overcoming small problems doesn’t undermine bigger cultural change
  • lots of examples of people developing under the wire and this can open doors to others once project out there and success. to some extent gets round the control issue but should we have to work this way?
  • all projects should start from the point of what is the business trying to achieve? what is the communication you are trying to make. team of (under wire) communication developers then need to facilitate the best solution on a case by case basis
  • need someone to who is passionate
  • if we all share our experiences and approaches through the session wiki this can be of massive help and best outcome of session. there is lots of this going on informally but a shared space to help with solutions to the hurdles.
  • @timdavies committed to continuing the wiki if people will find this useful. he also has a toolkit for youth engagment.
  • social media strategies across the organisation needed but each service also needs to have own approach
  • also great resources and case studies on IdEA CoP by @ingridk help pursuade stakeholders as they see work elsewhere and ask ‘why aren’t you doing this?’
  • genuine examples of ‘if they’re doing it, we must do it’
  • league tables and easy to view ‘how we’re losing out’ to present to stakeholders
  • tips from everyone in session
  • collaboration sometimes is sometimes better from bottom up. have an open mind and asked what is out there, who is using it, how can we do it. look at who else is already on the journey
  • if you want to be the enabler be the link between business strategy of engaging customers and what the opportunities on the ground. @carlheggarty get on and do it until someone asks you to stop. run pilot projects on key services to act as demonstrator. be persistent. shamelessly promote and explain it. be outright – say if we don’t do this we are not fulfilling our business strategy.
  • just do it. get some examples. under the wire if necessary.
  • engage councillors. get them interested so they put pressure on chief officers.
  • work around the blocks. simple things first and build up. start a blog
  • find out about demographics and empirical evidence – where to find?
  • demonstrate the danger of not acting. if you’re not doing it someone else will. examples of campaign groups already running but council’s not responding / engaging
  • aggregators available for any conversation happening across the spaces in order to show empirical data and how to get involved and become more efficient.
  • second view of finding one or two advocate councillors who would buy in and support. possibly a charter to overcome obstacles. started with rewired state (example)
  • framework needs to be in place so things can be farmed out to services. manager convinced of worth even if still technophobe.
  • conversation to continue outside of session.
  • get to know the technology in your own time, keep up with the market, trends etc
  • @timdavies says share even if it isn’t finished or perfect. councils and communities are not perfect they are work in progress
  • social media is not publishing it is conversation
  • throw stuff out and show what you are doing, show the good practice and lessons learned
  • the people who are trying to pursuade need to be more political with skills to pursuade and influence
  • bullsh*t is your friend – chief officers and councillors love this stuff but middle managers don’t
  • where will this stuff be shared? IdEA CoP, SOCITM web professionals group, need a new website! lol
  • SOCITM runs a CoP but will also form the web professionals group including social media pro and web
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