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March 11, 2010

Conferencing + interactive content + plus managing the network.

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 3:20 pm

“What I really like is Facebook. Can you do Facebook for me?”

No, it wasn’t my 10 year old asking me to set up his own Facebook page (which he wants – tho I haven’t). It was the director of a local council asking me if we’d be able to extend Facebook profiling for all staff and community stakeholders.

“Of course,” I replied. “We can even throw in sealed microblogging (twitter-style) capability for your senior management team and different departments.”

Now there’s an interesting challenge…

On every level central and local government are working on ways to extend their reach into the community, the problem is how to do it when budgets/resources are scarce and local politics get in the way.

What I propose is a virtuous circle of engagement. Take the old ideas of knowledge management – so beloved by local authorities – and turn them inside out. Bring video/audio and blogging capability to all staff within local government. Add to this, set everyone up with Facebook-style profiling and secure microblogging networks.

Immediately, people can start forming groups within organisations, best practice can be shared, problems can be solved. Twitter-style blogs can keep members of teams up to speed with what’s happening inside and outside of the office. This will become an essential tool for senior managers/directors and also frontline social workers. The career minded will embrace the new ways of working while acting as evangelists to the less enthused members of staff.

Following this, you extend this level of engagement into the community, bringing in health, police, community groups, charities. So the complex of different individuals and groups, private sector and public, will start to interact with each other.

Furthermore, as the groups start to generate content, talking to each other and posting human interest stories on video and in blogs, the engagement process will gather its own momentum – altho still managed by all partners in the community.

It’s ambitious, far-reaching stuff. An absurd utopia, some might think.

Maybe. But not so absurd. If all stakeholders decide to engage it can work through proper management and proactive profiling.

If cabinet ministers down to directors of local authorities are serious about stakeholder engagement, they should take the lead and start the making it happen.

I recently proclaimed in a meeting with the senior management team of a London Borough Council that I would revolutionise community engagement. At the time I was embarrassed by my own hyperbole. But afterwards I realised what I said was true.

We need to create awareness, then show people the possibilities; not abstract but concrete possibilities. Conferencing + interactive content + plus managing the network.

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