This morning I met a group of people from a ministry in Helsinki, Finland, and I run through some of my material on government 2.0. As I faced the topic of overlapping personal and professional identities, and how employees can leverage personal use of social media for their employer’s benefits (Gartner clients can read Government Employees on Social Networks: Reversing the Burden of Proof for a more complete discussion), one attendee made a couple of comments that made me think that there is hope.
He clearly showed that he understood both benefits and risks of using his personal profile on social networks to be more successful in his role as a government employee.
He shared a great example. As part of his job, he suggested that his ministry used Twitter to publicize the availability of a program helping local companies establish links with foreign companies. He went through a number of steps to explore and get the required authorizations, until he was told that such a tweet could be issued only by the communications office but, apparently, there was no policy and process as to how to do that.
He was disappointed but did not give up. He decided to tweet about the program himself, just providing the URL of the program page, and being careful not to formulate the tweet as coming from the Ministry, but as something shared by an individual who happened to have found this out.
I found this an interesting case that proves how employees can leverage their own social networks to get their job done, notwithstanding existing processes.
However when I thought I had found a model civil servant 2.0, he told me that he had just joined government from industry, an still had an official trainee status. While I hope he will keep an edge about the use of social media, I can’t help thinking that I may meet a very different, more rule-abiding person in a year time.