I talk a lot about how technology, like social media is a disruptive force in our lives. It makes us change how we think, asks us to look at life and ourselves differently, and it also asks us to change our behavior. These changes are not easy for any of us.
In October 2010, my bureau starting going through an in depth self evaluation to review what we are doing, how we are doing it, and if we need to change how we do business. The conclusion was that we do need to change and evolve as an organization into something that will better support our embassies and consulates around the world. These changes are actively being implemented. One of the factors taken into consideration was the budget cuts we have taken and are preparing to take in the coming fiscal year. Many changes have already been implemented and we understand more are forth coming.
The current round of changes has asked my office, the Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE), to reduce it’s staff and make significant changes to the scope of our work. As part of the reduction in staff and due to the senior leadership within my bureau’s recognition of my policy work, my position has been re-located to another part of the bureau. As of June 27, 2011, I will no longer serving the Office of Innovative Engagement as their Deputy Director. I am being re-located to serve on the Department’s Internet Steering Committee. This committee has oversight and policy making authority for all technologies associated with the Internet to include social media and other emerging technologies. It is still not clear what the full scope of my duties will be in my new position. I assume it will evolve based on the needs of my bureau, the Department and most importantly on the needs of our embassies and consulates.
As much as I understand change, talk to people about change, it is still hard when it happens to you. But with change comes future growth, new challenges, and new opportunities. All of which are exciting thoughts for the future. As much as leaving is hard, I move forward knowing that I helped start a very special and unique office; built the foundation for social media and emerging technology at the Department of State; sparked the imagination of many people and helped make them successful; and I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful team of practitioners and strategists. I wish OIE much future success as they start down their path towards continuing to stretch the Department’s imagination about what diplomacy and public diplomacy is and how it can best be accomplished.