Over the last several months I have been writing extensively, both on this blog and in our client-focused research notes, on the characteristics of what many call government 2.0. Citizen-drive, employee-centricity, open data availability, emergent architectures are all key features. But I have always tried to figure out which of these characteristics is the most important.
I have been reluctant to pick the number one factor, until when during a meeting last Friday, an executive from a federal Canadian agency used the term I had in mind but I had never put on paper. We were discussing how to make content more appealing to citizens using social media, and what the Smithsonian and others have been doing with Flickr, where they push content that can be tagged, classified, augmented by people on line. As I was going through this and other examples, I concluded with what I thought was the common denominator in all success stories so far. Funnily enough, this government executive (a very smart lady, with a long experience in several large agencies, and an enviably open mind) and I used the same term at the same moment, so much so that it almost sounded like a duet: “You have to let go” we both said.
This is it. This is the key ingredient, the secret sauce for government 2.0 initiatives to succeed. Of course it is not the only one, and it won’t always guarantee success, but should be top of mind for all those who strategize about and lead government 2.0 projects.
“Let go” means that you cannot plan in advance, you cannot set a future state architecture, you cannot control your employees too tightly, you cannot make assumptions about where and how and when value will be generated.
Pretty scary, isn’t it?