Many people have wondered if the Government 2.0 movement is dying or at least slowing down. Some have even said it is in a “slump”. I don’t believe either is happening. In fact in many ways it is growing. It is slowly becoming part of how Government does business. None of these changes will happen overnight, but if you think about the movement having really only starting two years ago, we have come a long ways! A great quote from Steve Radick on this is,
“We shouldn’t be focused on “doing Gov 2.0″ so that we can blog better or get more Facebook fans or get people to submit videos. Those are all just means to an end. Gov 2.0 isn’t “bolt-on,” it’s “baked-in.”
Good baking takes time and all of the ingredients need to be well integrated. This is also true of how Government 2.0 will be implemented. It takes time. The development of relationships (the foundation for any good community both in real life and online) takes time and effort. They do not happen overnight. The one significant change we are seeing is a shift on where the energy or action is centered. It is less centered on promoting the concepts of Government 2.0 and talking about why government should embrace Government 2.0. It is more focused on implementing those concepts into government. Although I am specifically talking about government, most of these ideas are not exclusive to government.
In the beginning, there was a lot of buzz and excitement over the next new thing, tool, technology or your shiny object of choice. This is the feeling and excitement people felt when they first heard about Government 2.0 and is reflective of how they were inspired to improve their government. There were numerous articles written dreaming about what a Government would look like who really implemented these tools. People felt empowered to do something and felt it was within their grasp. This spurred the birth of many projects and ideas both inside and outside of government.
Now, some of that newness has worn off. Some of the energy has waned. Some people have run into roadblocks. There have been failures and there have been successes too. But this doesn’t mean it is all over or that the entire movement is a failure. It just means we are evolving. We are learning how to use these tools and how to implement them into our respective organizations. Learning isn’t always a fast or easy process.
This phase we are now in is not an isolated event. It will and should happen numerous times as we change the way Government functions. To help with this discussion I have drawn some rudimentary graphs.
If you think about the adoption and implementation of Government 2.0 as being a sine wave instead of a bell curve then we should expect to go through many highs and lows. Some could say we are in this “low” now. Although instead of seeing it as a low, I prefer to think of these cycles as one of birth, metamorphosis, and rebirth. I refer to this as the Government 2.0 Adoption Cycle (Slide 1). The lows are really about focusing on the next phase. It is more a phase of internal reflection. The point where we lay the groundwork for going to the next level. Besides, if we were going strong all the time we would quickly be exhausted and would burn out. There is only so much change people can handle at any one specific time. Everyone needs time to adjust to the changes being promoted. It gives people a chance to become comfortable with these new ways of doing business. It is also a critical part of institutionalizing the changes in business and how we think about our work. These times of reflecting and introspection or metamorphosis are critical to our success. We are in a period of metamorphosis now.
If you overlay the Technology Adoption Lifecycle over my theory of Government 2.0 Adoption Cycle, you get a graph that looks like Slide 2. The Technology Adoption Lifecycle is a sociological model developed to track how innovation spreads. The Technology Adoption Lifecycle leverages these theories and applies it to the adoption or acceptance of a new product or technology. According to this overlay we are to the point where the Innovators and Early Adopters are on board. We are now working on the Early Majority. This Early Majority is an interesting demographic or user population. They are characterized as “more conservative but open to new ideas, active in the community and an influence to neighbors”. I would say this is a very accurate reflection of where the Government 2.0 movement is today.
We are working hard at converting this Early Majority. We are encouraging them to become advocates for the Government 2.0 movement. Most importantly, we are arming them with knowledge. This knowledge gives them the understanding of the tools, the background in the concepts and brings them into the ongoing discussion on how we should be thinking about the work we are doing, how may we need to change how we are conducting business, and what opportunities exist because of these new technologies. The Early Majority are becoming stakeholders and are starting to be vested in the concepts and ideas we as the Innovations and Early Adopters have been promoting. As you can see these are very internally focused activities. These activities may not always be interesting or sexy, but they are critical on our road to full adoption of Government 2.0.
This time of metamorphosis is where true organizational transformation occurs (Slide 3). You may be wondering what is this organizational transformation. It is the period where we work on implementing, iterating, and institutionalizing what we have learned. We have gained basic acceptance that the ideas and tools we have been preaching about are not going away. We have convinced senior managers that there are real opportunities and measurable results to be gained from implementing Government 2.0. These senior managers are now providing direction to all employees about how we will use social media to aspire to the ideals of Government 2.0. John F. Moore expressed this idea well in a recent tweet, “Government 2.0 must be driven top down (goals) and then collaborative to define solutions.” This sets up a framework to allow the innovators a safe environment where they can explore and iterate on various ways to implement social media as part of Government 2.0. This acceptance of these activities provides valuable learning experiments as we work to develop our internal processes and policies.
All of these activities during the metamorphosis stage where organizational transformation activities are occurring are critical to the successful implementation and adoption of Government 2.0. Although others may see this as a period of inactivity, it is in fact an extremely active phase. It is just focused internally instead of externally. But this also means that we are preparing for the next wave of excitement and success. It will be the rebirth of the Government 2.0 movement. I have no doubt that within the next six months we will see some new and significant changes in the Government 2.0 movement. These phases of birth, metamorphosis and rebirth are not singular events. They will continue happen as government evolves. I wish you all much success and am looking forward to reading about your transformation and rebirth.