“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”

An interesting report into the blockers behind the adoption of social media in government is quoted as flagging up IT as one of those key blockers. I will ask the guys at Huddle for a copy of their report as we use Huddle and I recommend anyone looking for a quick and easy project collaboration tool to take a look at their service.

I find it interesting that the pitch of the article is that we in IT are against social networking. Ok, so it’s another thing to manage and another possible path for information to leak but we could have made all these arguments about the telephone or allowing people to speak in the office.

Personally I think that the problem is not so much with my fellow CIOs but rather with the fact that social media is inherently disruptive. We work in bureaucracies which have grown over the years and where information and social networks are both power and inherently built into the very fabric of the organization. Tools which allow you to recast information and social networks in an agile manner strike at this traditional worldview and in my world we do not necessarily have the same market pressures which affect other classic information/social network businesses like newspapers or retail.

Anyway, I’m one public sector CIO pushing on with our own social media developments.


5 thoughts on ““I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”

  1. Agree with you on the bureaucracy – ‘social meja’ is scary, it is not controllable, it demands conversation, it demands reasoned argument/discussion and it dissolves smoke and mirror pedantics.

    However, it is potentially fatal to ignore it, and those who choose to do so will have ‘social meja’ heaped upon them. The only way to ‘deal with the social media problem’ is to understand it and don’t run away/head sand… once a community (online or otherwise) comes a-knocking in this world, they don’t just go away, and silence/ignorance just stokes the fire.

    The following link might be useful:


  2. And to be fair, us social media types often don’t help ourselves. At least vendors of ‘proper software’ tend to have thought through the issues of support, scalability, data migration, licensing, user management and proper systems/database architecture.

    Working with our Information Assurance and Information Security guys, I’m trying to put together a risk assessment template – not a big bureaucratic thing, just a checklist – so that when we embark on a social media project/tool, we’ve got senior-level awareness of the technical, financial, information and communications issues involved. So far, everyone’s on board.

  3. It’s a difficult line to tread between being evangelical and realistic. I think sometimes we fall prey to shiny new toy syndrome without considering the business implications of what we are trying to implement. I think things are changing though, at work I hear more ‘how can we do this?’ questions as opposed to ‘you can’t do this’.

    It might sound insignificant – but it’s a step in the right direction.

  4. @Emma – I agree, change is not something you can hide from but in our world there is not necessarily the same push as in the commercial world. Government has got by historically by engaging mainly in monologues and getting people to realise the drivers for change is only now starting to bear fruit.

    That’s the problem with existential threats, they require both bravery and long term vision.


    @Steph – Good to see that you recognise it is all your fault! 🙂 I’d be interested in that checklist, we are just about to kick off work on our secure SharePoint collaboration testbed and it would be good to test it against other’s needs.

    @jkerrstevens – yes, getting to Bob the Builder is the first step! 🙂

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