The Why of Social Media (part 2)

When thinking about citizen and employee engagement and how we can all work together to address complex issues such as climate change, homelessness and healthcare, to name a few, consider what motivates people and how we can enable them to do what they do best: contribute.

Understanding human motivation is the foundation of improving citizen and employee engagement. Why do people like to use social media? (Recapping from last post.) People want …

  1. To contribute
  2. To be part of something larger than themselves
  3. To make the world a better place

This is not so say I’m a pollyanna. I understand that some people (maybe 5%?) do not have other people’s interest at heart. I understand that social media is used to develop and spread maleware, viruses and spam, for example. Social media can be used to waste corporate time and to organize organized crime. But the majority of people (say 95%) want to help make the world a better place. In fact, when given the opportunity, most people are passionate about making a difference.

Hundreds of examples are out there, from Wikipedia to Linux, InnoCentive to Threadless, blogs to flash mobs, Ushahidi to a multitude of open source/open data applications that benefit citizens. People contribute to these projects because they are passionate about what they are contributing and understand the value of sharing their effort and expertise to a worthwhile cause they believe in.

When you wake up in the morning and you know that you are contributing to something worthwhile that makes a difference, you wake up with enthusiasm and a smile.

I worked for years in the private sector before coming to the public sector. What impressed me about working for in the BC Public Service was that I could make a difference. I took to heart the Oath of Service, especially the part: “Act with integrity, putting the interests of the public and the public service above my own personal interest.”

I was struck by the fact that we are all working for a common cause: to provide value to the citizens of BC. The vision of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has evolved over time, but when I started we were all pulling in the same direction to:

  1. Enable better business outcomes for the citizens of BC
  2. Reduce carbon emissions
  3. Support an anticipated smaller workforce due to demographics (retirements)

In October, 2010, the BC Government released Citizens @ the Centre: Government 2.0 which provided an updated strategy for transformation and technology for the BC Public Service and is centred on three shifts:

  1. Citizen Participation
  2. Service Innovation (citizen-centric)
  3. Business Innovation

Citizens @ the Centre is exciting because this is strategy not just for the OCIO, but for all of the BC Public Service put out by the Deputy Minister’s Council for Transformation and Technology.

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