Day one at open everything was essentially a discovery day. We did a number of un-conference activities to help express the widely different points of view on what ‘open’ is. One of the most interesting was the Spectrogram. David Eaves has done a great job of explaining what we did on his blog so suffice it to say that we were asked to decide where we fit on a scale of 0 to 100 percent on two key questions. how open is your organization? and to what extent do you practice open? Then physically stand along an x and y axis (two strips of tape along the floor) in response to question.
So where do i stand? To the first question about how open is government i had to stand in the teens, gov
ernment is not open. Not because we dont communicate or that we dont listen but because governments are hierarchical and we serve the political process, briefing and communicating up and out. Also, we do have signficant checks and balances to ensure that we protect privacy and ensure that our information is credible. I also think that our current challenges internally with getting departmental employees to share information and their impulse to use systems that can easily be locked down or closed coloured my decision. But i wasnt alone, i was flanked by a university professor and international government agency person.
As for the question about whether we personnally practice open I agree with David’s observations. The majority of the participants who identified themselves as coming from conservative or closed organizations were also very open in their work practices. We do see ourselves as change agents and we do try to practice openness. Somebody commented that this was a tragic paradox, but to my mind i thought that it was very positive, while we may all be change agents we are doing this because our organizations have opened to these ideas. The largest group in the spectrogram were the change agents working in more conservative organizations.
There were many other activities mind mapping and speedgeek sessions and most importantly the individual interactions and fascinating and engaged conversations that have been so rich for me. Everything from FOO camps for scientists to the remarkably shared challenge of the problem of having too much money. this is too much to deal with in a blog so i am afraid i will have to write much of this into the wiki.
I hope today to talk more about culture. I have been discussing a primer on fostering culture of open and i think this could be a useful contribution to the community