Yesterday Rohan Silva announced that Jimmy Wales – the founder of Wikipedia – will be advising Government on #CrowdGov. Or to quote a Whitehall spokesman: “He will advise Government on developing innovative new ways technology can be used to give the public a greater say in the policy-making process.”
This government is often criticised for not having a vision. It may not be news worthy or super sexy but the Open Government agenda is very exciting. The way the world works continues to evolve. How people communicate and consume differs significantly compared to five years ago. As the pressures of globalisation continue at a pace it is important that Government looks into how to improve governance, and harness the advantages that are out there. That is why it should be welcomed that we are seeking advice from those who have been immensely successful when operating in the new environment.
Government is changing
The three pillars modern governments should be built on are:
- Stable Disruption
“It is wrong to think that those who have power always know how best to use it, or even what to use it for.”
Governing is not a tidy process. It involves opposing arguments, debates and the constant injection of new ideas. The best way to get the best outcomes is to be as open as possible.
To quote, Paul Romer “Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable.” A quick and cheap way to promote growth is for the state to free it’s data so entrepreneur can try new ideas. There are now over 200 government data sites around the world.
“If knowledge is power then let’s use everyone’s knowledge”
Policy formation should be open to all. Ideally Government should be run on the same model as Facebook. The civil service will facilitate, filter and curate policy discussions. Effort needs to be focused on getting interested parties to add content and value to any discussion.
Elected ministers will set the boundaries, have the final say between competing ideas and promote the project. As the process is open if someone disagrees with the direction the project is going in, it may be possible for them to take aspects of the work go off in their own direction.
“The modern world changes fast, thus it is better to be a part of the change rather than reacting to it.”
Government will only be able to harness the power of social media if they adapt, and go with the grain of what is happening. Ideas should be released early and often. Failure is ok, as long as you learn from it and the best way to learn is to be publilc. Challenge – or disruption – should be encouraged, but there also needs to be a good understanding of risks/impacts.