T20 Ministers Meeting Incredible Success for Government 2.0
I was heartened to hear during my keynote (goto Login Tourism Speakers) and after at the T20 Meeting in Buyeo, Korea, that nations are taking technology adoption to a new level and will continue to drive it from within their national and local tourism bodies.
The Korean organization was particularly aggressive in pursuing new technology adoption to accomplish a number of tasks:
1) They have decided specifically to drive Government as a Platform and understand that without it the level of investment will be insufficient to support the tourism industry. They leverage public-private partnerships in ways I have only dreamed of. Charm Lee, in leading the tourism organizations for the nation is doing an amazing job.
2) They applications are forward thinking and full of rich media interactions. In this app, Korea is far ahead of the rest of the world in brand exploitation, sticky web app penetration and thought leadership. Create your own personalize itinerary based upon your feedback during an interactive movie? Brilliant.
And the audience attracted by this event was impressive. from members of the European Commission, to tourism leaders from nearly every major country on the planet, to the UN, the T20 meeting was an incredible success.
I am re-reading, again, Albert Camus’ “The Rebel“. I’m packing it with me during the next month or so of travel to many corners of the world. Strangely, I find solace and hope in a man’s thoughts who are sometimes seen as critical of meaning in life, and I concur with others who say he is deeply hopeful and celebratory of happiness and joy.
At the same time I am reading “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon. The connections are interesting and as many of you know, I do find compelling meaning in connections from different authors across multiple time periods. This is one such case for Camus, Bacon and our Government 2.0 Community.
Camus makes an interesting point about rebellion and revolution in the book. I am not sure I completely agree with his conclusions, but his analysis is interesting when you think about the current debates about Government 2.0. His point, at least one of them, is that rebellion is an act that does not necessarily have an end goal in mind but is rather an act of passion built up after living in an unacceptable condition for a long period of time. He points to slavery and ultimate rebellion as an example. At the point of initial rebellion the activity is a reaction to unjust activity that had been tolerated for too long and as such is absolute and filled with emotion. While ultimately this becomes an absolute position, it starts with a spark of highly emotional retort. Which is where I find our Government 2.0 movement today.
He juxtaposes rebellion with revolution. He places calculated planning and goal orientation squarely on the revolutionary and notably absent from the rebel. His point about revolution always leading to tyranny is connected to the times in which he wrote. I am not certain I subscribe to his conclusions but they are worth consideration as we start to deal with the concerns that our movement has no concrete goals, KPIs, measurement or end state. While the rebellion cannot have a connection to its end state, revolutions do. Revolutions are meant to replace dominant paradigms, not simply rebel against them. We certainly need to protect against the potential of tyranny as part of our goal set, but the mood of the community right now seems to be turning toward a need for more ultimate structure, so that we know when we have won (we will see the artifacts we desire – Government as a Platform).
So, what is the connection between Camus and Bacon? Good question…
In “The Art of Community”, Bacon pens a great point, “There is an important connection here in which imagination and opportunity are close friends. Imagination offers the mind a vision of how things could be. If there is a viable path toward this future, we build a sense of opportunity. If there is no viable path, we enter the world of fantasy.” I see our current endeavors dominated by imagination. Folks creating the new world in their heads and talking about it. Painting incredible pictures of what we could accomplish. The opportunity side of things is starting to spring up now too, which is great. As part of that cycle some will succeed, some will fail, at exploiting that opportunity. We need to be accepting of that cycle and continue to be accepting of both our imagineers and our opportunity seekers as both are necessary to create a true open government revolution instead of simple rebellion. As some of us paint the picture of the future, others must *show* that there is viable path.
This is the resolution of the “too much talk, not enough doing” challenge we have been discussing. We need to have both. Don’t get me wrong, I do favor the doing side myself (a la Cypherpunks Write Code). But I deeply understand, respect, and, when I give speeches, channel the imagination side of things. If we embrace both, we will succeed in building the foundations of a great and global society. If we fail, it may only be fantasy.
Simplicity is not the Hallmark of Government, Yet...
The fine folks over at the Telegraph continue to have great mashups based upon the UK Gov’s open data work. This image made me laugh a bit. It shows the overly complex nature of HMG and one is left to wonder why.
I am not as cynical as Gerry McGovern over at Giraffe Forum, but his post on bureaucracy and complexity does give some insight into, at least, the historical reasons such complexity existed. In many parts of the world the overt corruption that used to drive such complexity has gone (although I am fully aware that such detrimental practices continue to exist in many parts of the world). But the lack of the overt corruption has resulted in an even more difficult set of challenges in many cases.
When corruption was actively present, it was obvious to those involved why the complexity existed. As it was eradicated, and as civil servants took over who had no need for it, the positioning became difficult to move. You see, these civil servants aren’t corrupt, are driven by mission and therefore, defend their organizations as protectors of that mission. They see attacks on it as thwarting objectively good outcomes and fight against the threat. And when folks mention that corruption may result, or indeed may have been the cause of the complexity, they resist with righteous indignation, because, in fact, they are not engaged in it. Therefore they defend the complexity as part of the mission, since they cannot buy into the argument that the structure inculcates bad things, in their mind, it does not.
So, we need to be careful what arguments we use to advocate for governmental reform. Instead of labeling civil servants as corrupt protectors of a corrupt system, which is not true, we need to take a different tack.
This is where Gerry has it right on. And it is incredibly prescient given the industrial shift right now to the cloud. He argues eloquently that:
Bad complexity creates dependence. Good complexity creates independence. One of the things the Web reflects is a movement away from the production of products to the delivery of services. In a world of production the thing itself often dominates, but in a world of service the satisfaction of the customer dominates. In other words, in a service-driven world, the measure of success is not what you have produced, but rather how satisfied your customer is.
As I engage with customers in Government around cloud topics this statement rings very true. Not just for us as managers of online services, but to them as managers of government services. Instead of creating a dependent culture that protects a franchise, we need to make sure that we enable our governments to create unbelievably happy and satisfied customers (a.k.a. citizens). The shift is vital. And as some centralized ICT bodies look to provide cloud services for their own Ministries, they need to make the shift as well. Their customers (internal) must be unbelievably happy with the solutions they are providing. They must shift from holding a monopoly to holding a franchise based upon the satisfaction of their customers.
As we each, industry and government, make the mind shift to the cloud, the strategic imperative is obvious. Change your organization structure to reflect the simplicity that your customers demand to be satsified.
It is an interesting topic. Beyond the environmental sustainability issues, resiliency is potentially a great goal for governments, period. The idea embraces the thought that governments should be built as platforms instead of service providers. Building an adaptable, scalable platform would allow for governments to change as their environment changes and to do so quickly. A few examples of resilience?
Demographic changes and population shifts often cause long term policy shifts. Regional increases in human services investments for instance. But often the infrastructure below that is slow to change. The slowness of transit is only adapted to once the complaints pile up. The health solutions may be OK now, but how will folks know when it is feeling the pressure of the increase in population? Do utilities have the ability to adapt to increased usage with additional population or will it take a failure?
If the government platform includes open data as part of the platform and focus on real-time data provisioning, then the feedback loop is shortened. Policy makers can make quicker decisions and citizens can be satisfied.
In terms of resiliency, the platform can remain constant but the applications can shift as needs do. And scale.
The unexpected situation is another one of the most difficult situations that governments face. I was briefing the CDC in the USA a month or so ago and we got into a great conversation. It revolved around political responses to crisis like H1N1. Political folks need to respond visually and energize the government to act in response. Application needs often surface. And then the challenge begins. Setting up a procurement. An RFI. An RFP. Multiple vendor conferences. Objection handling. Internal committees to decide. The decision. More objections. The purchase. The delivery. Unpacking and rack and stack. Burning images. Hopefully concurrent development. UAT. Provisioning. Pilot. Launch. Best time estimate: 6 months. Very unhappy politicians. Very unhappy citizens.
But if the platform exists, the data is available and usable (like OGDI) and citizens and developers know how to use it (API), then response can be as quick as the demand that generated the need. Like Miami 3-1-1 or Hey Gov in San Francisco. A few weeks. Maybe days. And if the need is great enough, hours.
That is the goal in terms of resilient government.
China: Municipalities throughout China Could Lead Government 2.0
Municipal and Provincial leadership in China is ready to help make government the strategic lever for policy reforms that the world seeks.
I keynoted an event on the cloud in Government in China recently and the governments in China appear poised to embrace the Government as a Platform ideals and help to push Government 2.0 efforts. My conversation started with an explanation of the need for change in government worldwide. This explanation was met with enthusiasm throughout the audience and follow-on conversations were supportive. I was happy to see an embrace of the idea that from now on, government platforms must be designed to scale from the beginning. And it is important for all of us to get the largest government on the planet to help push that idea.
It is instructive that the discussions were spurred on by conversations around cloud computing. True scale in these efforts will contemplate the cloud and it is heartening to know that our partners in China will be helping to make that happen. And that they are willing to help lead the rest of the world toward a common set of outcomes surrounding the Government 2.0 movement.
Of particular interest was my discussion of the millennials and their impact on the conversation as well as the very form of government itself. The changes this generation will bring is going to be massive as we have seen already on the technology landscape.
I look forward to further conversations with my new found friends in Jinan and throughout China.
I love great movies (even when they are American Sports references, sorry to ll of our global readers). I love great speeches. I love motivation. And I do so, because of many of the things inside this speech. And the Government 2.0 movement is at this place, right now.
The founders of the movement toiled through years of being the minority, of gaining little attnetion. Of margianialization. And then, the 2008 American Presidential Election.
All of a sudden our points were made eloquent by one of our country’s best orators. He laid down the open government directive gauntlet as a first step. He appointed a rebel to CIO. He embodied the revolutary mantra and ethic, surely this movement had arrived.
But an economic crisis interceded. A healthcare challenge. A midterm election disaster. And questions abound. About him. About us. About the movement. We are down, a bit. But we are far from out.
As Pacino says in the clip, the inches are all around us. We just need to take them. We need to shoulder on through the current controversy. We need to ignore the charletans and those who might simply try to profit off of the momentum. Igonre these market timers of the movement. We need to have the guts to take what is our destiny, not just despite the odds against us, but becuase that opposition is there.
No gain made in life that is worth the effort happens without trial. Without unbelievable effort. And the best occur when we leave every last drop of sweat, every ounce of energy, every last bit of our passion out there on the playing field, and collapse, victorious.
As many of you who follow my blog know, I believe in both the Rebel and the Revolutionary. This post is way on the Rebel side of the argument, but I am actively involved with the Revolutionary spirit. I fight to invest, to deploy, to cajole, to plan and to create long term vehicles to help carry your message. And I believe that our movemnt must embrace the cypherpunk ethic “Gov20′ers write code”.
We need even more of that. In light of the criticism, deploy a solution. Write an app. Form a community. Join a meetup. Organize a Social Media group inside your government. Deploy Citizen based systems that treat citizens like customers. Drive performance metrics.
But most important, adopt a new point of view. You see, while revolutions depend on great speeches that move masses of people to take some form of collective action…real revolution only happens inside individual people. and, it is all that we, in fact, can control. And the greatest point of all, it is completely within our own control. Nobody can stop us from taking on a new point of view. Your boss cant force you not to have it. Your husband can’t stop you from thinking about it. Lack of time in a day cant stop it. Bad community leadership, a questioning press corps, FOIA requests, opposing political parties…none of them can touch it. And even better, you can recommit to it each and every day, it costs nothing and you need no permission.
Seattle 2.0: Can Government Officials Survive Another Winter Storm?
I am from a great state in the middle part of the United States, Wisconsin. It is a cold place. It snows a lot. I mean, a lot. The city services to clear roads is incredible. And when it is slow, even a little bit, the political repercussions are immediate. You have to keep the roads clear.
I moved to Seattle. They are not so familiar with snow here . Last year we had a good sized storm. Paralyzed the city. Shut down schools. Affected public safety. And, arguably, cost the mayor his job.
We just got hit with another good sized snow storm. The coverage has been good. And so far the services have held up. But as the Times reports, this is a big one and is shutting down schools and services. So, it is a good time to remind folks that all politics is local and if we cant deliver services that our citizens expect, we can expect to be thrown out of office.
We are kicking off a great GovCamp in Portugal today and fully expect that the incredible speakers and elected officials will covers incredible topics like the economy and the environment, but I challenge them all to keep a close eye on their streets as they pull their way out of this recession.
And in case folks don’t see the connection between snow and open government, see the multiple instances of local councils tweeting their snow plow locations and routes, SMS solutions for weather warnings like the one we stood up in Jamaica to warn of hurricanes and multiple 311 systems including the City of Miami and San Francisco that now allow citizens to track their complaints directly. These just touch the surface, what else is out there?