Ten steps to Wiki Government

Beth NoveckI’ve been accumulating a blogging backlog throughout this summer – having tons of ideas for blog posts, but little time to write. Well, some of the ideas and insights I wanted to share with you, is a brilliant list written by Beth Simone Noveck. I heard her at the Personal Democracy Forum conference in New York in June, and recommended by PDF host Micah Sifry, I bought her new book, Wiki Government and read it this summer. Noveck is a director of Obama’s Open Government Initiative, but also the director of New York Law School’s Institute for Information Law and Policy.

The book gives us lots of ideas about how to bring innovation to government, using digital technology. She also writes about the shift from deliberation (talking) to collaboration (doing). As more governmental agencies, politicians and ministries have started using blogs, Twitter, Facebook to communicate with citizens,  it is time to do more the “just” talk and discuss, and start solving real problems with the new collaborative tools such as wikis, databases, etc. She has experienced with collaborative tools through the “Peer to Patent”-project, a groundbreaking project that started in 2005, where the intention was to open up the American patent process to public participation for the first time. She argues that by encouraging, coordinating and structuring citizen participation, technology can make government both more open and more effective.

Wiki GovernmentHere is Noveck’s list of 10 lessons learned about collaborative democracy (from the book):

1. Ask the right questions. The more specific the question, the better targeted and more relevant the responses will be.

2. Ask the right people. Creating opportunities for self-selection allows expertise to find the problem.

3. Design the process for the desired end. The choice of methodology and tools will depend on the results. The goals should be communicated up front.

4. Design for groups, not individuals. “Chunk” the work into smaller problems, which can easily be distributed to members of a team. Working in groups makes it easier to participate in short bursts of time and is demonstrated to produce more effective results.

5. Use the screen to show the group back to itself. If people perceive themselves to be part of a minimovement, they will work more effectively together across a distance.

6. Divide work into roles and tasks. Collaboration requires parceling out assignments into smaller tasks. Wikipedia works because people know what to do.

7. Harness the power of reputation.

8. Make policies, not websites. Improved practices cannot be created through technology alone.

9. Pilot new ideas. Use pilot programs, competitions, and prizes to generate innovation.

10. Focus on outcomes, not inputs. Design practices to achieve performance goals and metrics. Measure success.

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