Plans are underway for Glasgow’s second year of participation in the Social Media Week (24-28 September). Last year we ran a series of breakfast workshops on tools for keeping up to date (RSS/newsfeeds), managing and sharing interesting websites (social bookmarking) and collaborating (Google Docs). While we can encourage individuals to work collaboratively and share information using social media, they face many obstacles when trying to use these tools and techniques back in the workplace.
The obstacles are technical and cultural. Many organisations technically block access to sites, albeit allowing access on request. Culturally, however, they tend not to be very well disposed towards encouraging innovative use of web-based tools and services.
So this year we’d like to focus attention on unblocking access. We ran a survey earlier this year which showed that streaming video services such as Vimeo are routinely blocked. While we know that these sites can be unblocked, for most busy practitioners it’s just too much hassle. The problem could be seen as an ‘unholy trinity’:
1. A degree of technophobia at senior management level.
2. Heads of IT who don’t feel they should lead change.
3. Users (practitioners) who don’t have the technical vocabulary, time, patience or energy to maintain a sustained effort to bring about change.
The user must feel a bit like a child being bounced from parent (senior management) to parent (IT) for a decision neither parent wants to make.
Our question is Who’s Leading? That is, who within organisations can lead cultural change, from which technical change should follow? We would argue that we need leadership from all three groups. Plus encouragement from the Government: digital participation or inclusion strategies are doomed, worthless even, if people are denied access and encouragement.
Who’s leading? has another meaning though. Some organisations, (such as Monmouthshire) seem to be ahead of the game and could set good examples to others. So we need more examples to show the way.
Along with the Improvement Service we are are planning a BBC Question Time style event with a panel made up of ‘influencers’ and an audience of people who would like to know why they are entrusted with all kinds of responsibility, but not trusted to use a modern browser or the tools and services that make communication and collaboration easy and more effective.
We’d love to hear what you think and if you have any thoughts on ‘influencers’ who might join this panel.