Public sector professionals across the world are using digital platforms to work openly, to share their work, engage with citizens and collaborate with others. Championed by networks such as OneTeamGov, this is a new movement committed to working openly and transparently. Scotland is one of the nations leading the way in terms of Open Government — and this lies right at the heart of the National Performance Framework. And there are notable individuals such as Niamh Webster and Leah Lockhart working openly themselves in Scotland around the issue.
There are a number of reasons why we should do it. By demonstrating openness and transparency it helps to engage with citizens and the sectors we work with, and connects with others working in related fields across the world. As such it is vital for network and alliance building. For the organisations we work within it provides a greater sense of authenticity, and can support and complement formal corporate comms.
In terms of what to be open about, at Open Change we encourage those who work in our client organisations to post about:
- Work in progress, public events, activities, and notable achievements
- Experiences and reflections on the processes and activities we take them through
- Questions they have of others working in their field
- Interesting and relevant things they have read or events attended
We encourage the use of photos and video — but it goes without saying that working in the open does not involve:
- Using photographs or video that do not have consent
- Details of client events or initiatives that have yet to be announced
- Critical comments about any individual or organisation
- Personal promotion (as opposed to confidence building and network building)
- Party political views
- Anything that breaches employee obligations in terms of code of conduct, conflict of interest, privacy, values and ethics.
In terms of how you do it, there are various options:
- Twitter — Just set up an account and start tweeting. Others who tweet in the spirit of working in the open include: @ktmcnl @LockhartL @DouglasKnox @kitterati @rufflemuffin @katyarnie — and many others.
- Blog on #weeknotes — this is a Medium publication that features weekly posts from a whole variety of public, private and third sector professionals: https://weeknot.es/ — you can add your own Weeknotes by following the link at the top of the page.
- Setting up your own blog — using Medium, Wordpress or any other platform.
- Securing an ‘open working’ blog space on the client’s website — this has the advantage of clustering all posts from an organisation in one place and demonstrates that there is corporate support for this way of working.
There are a number of things worth reading that give extremely useful advice on how to approach this.
In working openly, I think there’s an art in striking the balance between the positive and negative. Few people will want to hear how utterly amazing you are or conversely read a 10,000 word rant on everything that’s wrong with your work place.
I generally find it’s best to frame things as a learning experience. Through this lense I can objectively view what went right, or wrong, and then consider how I’d do things different next time around.
Neil Tamplin does the digital stuff for Cadwyn Housing, a social housing provider based in Cardiff. The two paragraphs above emphasise why working in the open can be best expressed as a learning experience. His post Why Work Out Loud provides other useful advice and insights.
Melinda Seckington, Technical Manager at Future Learn in London, makes the case that working in the open is part of employee evangelism — creating a “conversation between your employees and the potential employees outside the company”. Her post Employee Evangelism: Make Your Team Badass puts working in the open in the context of community and team building within and beyond the organisation.
Janet Hughes, the UK Department for Education’s Director of Major Projects says:
I’d really like to help and encourage people working on major projects to work more openly, blogging about what they’re working on and what they’re learning. This is important because it helps us connect with other people who are working on similar challenges, builds trust and confidence in the work we’re doing and generally makes things better.
Her recent post provides advice and suggestions on blogs and bloggers to read and follow. Jenny Vass has also provided her top ten tips to help colleagues across government work in the open in her post how to write a blog post, which does very much what it says on the tin.