Government leaders should be open to the role that collaborative technology can play.
The promise of collaboration
Collaboration produces innovation /span>
At TSA, Hawley has launched an internal collaboration site, at least in part to provide a place where the 43,000 transportation security officers (TSOs) can share important information and techniques for improving the security of our country’s airports.
TSA’s Idea Factory is a secure intranet, restricted to registered users inside the agency. It has become an instant hit. Airport TSOs now share ideas for improving their workplace environment and strategies for making the traveling public more secure. Within a week of its launch, TSA employees had submitted more than 150 ideas, offered more than 650 comments and voted on ideas more than 800 times.
Of course, volume is not the only metric, but participation and information exchange are crucial.
Not just more but better
As a public administrator, I believe that the real power of collaborative technology extends far beyond the practical solutions that I’ve outlined. It is more than a new capability. It enables an entirely new way of thinking about the everyday management challenges of government. The real power of collaborative technology lies in its promise for bringing citizens back to the public square to re-engage them in the work of government and solving the problems of America and the world.
In his book “The Medici Effect,” Frans Johansson talks about the value of creating a space in which people from diverse fields of expertise can exchange ideas and solve problems. The wealthy and powerful Medici family played an important role during the Renaissance. They supported artists, philosophers and scientists whose combined intellect propelled the world out of the Dark Ages.
We might not think of ourselves as wealthy or powerful, but the tool that you understand and offer — collaborative technology — can be very powerful and offers a wealth of possibilities. In a nation of more than 300 million people, collaborative technology is the currency that people from all walks of life can use to come together and solve problems.
Ironically, governments and government managers — who are under constant pressure to deliver on behalf of citizens — might not be in the best position to tap the real power of that new tool. But some nonprofit organizations, including the academy, see the promise and are beginning to do so.
In colonial times, the public square could hold all the citizens of a town. It was a place for debate, for open discussion of ideas, problems and solutions. It was the epicenter of democracy.
Today, we are too many, too widely dispersed and often too busy to gather in a single location and engage in debate.
But you — today’s technology leaders in government and industry — have the tools that can bring us together in communities of interest and neighborhoods of concern. Increasingly, your challenge is to convince nontechie managers that you have an indispensable seat at the policy table. In this era of technology, you must be at that table to inspire innovative solutions to the problems of our times and help restore confidence in America’s government.
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