The vandals took the handle

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Will government need to be dragged into the new reality

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In the past, politicians and bureaucrats generally saw themselves as deciding what services the public needed – and then arranging to have those services delivered, either directly or through outsourcing.

In a ‘social media’ environment, that role can be defined as simply ‘meeting the needs of the community’.

The difference is subtle, but extremely important.  However, I fear  it may well be beyond the grasp of much of our current bureaucracy, even though the public increasingly ‘gets it’.  Many elected representatives and unelected bureaucrats  believe they automatically know what’s best for the populace.  With a few notable exceptions, it’s called delusion.

I started thinking along these lines after  one of my favourite bloggers, Carl Haggerty, recently suggested that social media would require the public sector to allow local people to determine how resources should be delivered”.  The key words here are “local people” and “determine”.

Another excellent writer on the subject, Paul Clarke, said that government would need to engage and listen to the public so it could  find out what was really needed to serve a community.

Paul admits that there are financial hurdles, as well as “an enormous amount of established practice and ‘habit’ to address.

“It’s not easy to throw everything in the air and start from the beginning.

“It takes a seriously sensitive hand to guide and shape services without reverting to pale, top-down reflections of what was really needed.

“It might not involve the services as they’ve traditionally been delivered. It might not involve some of the services at all. It’s very likely to involve some that haven’t even been designed yet…

“Aim to deliver a set of services, and you’ll do just that. Perhaps a little better each year, perhaps with a few innovations, but by and large you’ll always do what you’ve always done.

“Aim to serve a community, and things really could change…”

It’s not rocket science but, unfortunately, our bureaucracy rarely seems to contains Obama-style visionaries. For many of them, the old untargeted marketing of ‘messages’ lives on, despite a changing, connected world.

The great wall of bureaucracy

The great wall of bureaucracy

 

 

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Written by ianandsue

July 21, 2009 at 2:26 pm

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