Digital Leadership in Local Government Masterclass

Channel_Shift_Accelerators_handLast Thursday I travelled to Warwick University to deliver a session on Digital Leadership for Local Government drawing on things like this blog and other forms of social media I have used in my role as a Councillor, reflecting on what has worked well, the challenges of using social media and of the whole subject of what is a Digital Council form a Councillors point of view.

It was quite timely as just before I left my office, I received a Facebook message asking about my locality funding and if a community group could access funding for a project they were working on. Of course they probably could have contacted me in some other way but they chose Facebook because that is what they used to talk with other people in the community and this sort of accessibility and networking that lay at the heart of being a Networked Local Councillor and should be encouraged and supported by Councils.

The brief for the session I was speaking at was called: Councillor Perspective – a panel discussion focusing on real examples of digital Leadership, key Challenges, and opportunities, and the panel’s view of what are the top three ingredients needed to ensure ‘digital’ can flourish in an organisation.

I was joined for the session by Cllr. Theo Blackwell of Camden Council. We had both been given the exact same brief but we came at the subject from completely different prospective.

I very much focused on what I think are the cultural challenges to making digital happen and Theo spoke of the opportunities Digital brings to Councils and communities.

In my bit, I hypnotized as to the behavioural patterns of those at the cutting edge of being digital and those who lagged. From the various discussions and research I have looked at, those Councils who are embracing and thus benefiting from the digital revolution display some common characteristics which can be distilled into one word, culture. Those Councils who have enabled their Councillors with tablets and have provided extensive social media training are the very same councils who are web casting their meetings, are the very same councils who are redesigning their web sites to be better interfaces for people to access on-line the services and information they need, and have genuinely embraced the fact that most people access the internet not through laptops by via tablets and smart phones and thus are becoming digital Councils faster than others. And as to the culture it’s those Councils who’s leadership is focused on being in broadcast mode, where the control of the message is viewed as more important and less dangerous than debate, for to enable Councillors to engage and share opinion, for Council meetings and Councillors to have the full glare of web casting often can mean people can be off message and get embroiled in genuine debate that might be contra to the delivery of the message. The correlation of the two is quite striking in Councils across England.

Only one theory as to why some embrace the opportunities of being a Digital Council and some do not, but in short, same session title totally different approaches which everyone on the course thought gave a really good variety, almost planned, set of responses to the question posed and what followed was a really interesting Q&A session.

I also got the change to meet with Emer Coleman who’s had a remarkable career working with a variety of politicians and Leaders. And who’s extensive knowledge on Digital and Social Media I was lucky enough to hear as I arrived in time to hear her session before ours, titled ‘Managing your online reputation’.

Digital to save money through channel shifting is one important thing but digital and how it is used by communities to support themselves and ultimately how to better engage communities and groups in the decision making processes is the really interesting thing ahead.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Kerry Buist on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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