Finding the time to innovate and try new things: That magic 10% - it can be the difference between the ordinary and the great.
By Ben Tysoe
How many things are achieved through emails?
Not how many agreements are reached, or how many meetings are fixed up, but how much is actually produced by emails?
Moaning about the time spent on email and the savings that can be made avoiding it are so common on the web that writing one now almost feels like a genre piece, but the message of cutting red tape, putting on a crash helmet and just doing stuff is a good one.
At Buckinghamshire County Council, we hold six full council meetings a year and for the past three, we’ve run a live Twitter feed, straight into our May AGM meeting. Bonkers or what…!
We didn’t get the software approved; we found the best price ourselves and went for it. The branding of the Twitter wall was done by following the existing guidelines and common sense. The approval process for the entire project was two communications officers and the council leader.
’Let’s make this process as simple as it should be’ was our mantra, and it took courage. We had to be prepared for the worst case scenario, this goes terribly wrong, no one tweets anything in or we are just doing something for technology’s sake and the full weight of it falls on the team that went for it.
But isn’t that preferable to the other course of action? Cramming in a dozen emails to every stakeholder, just in case they’re needed? Stuffing everyone with “manager” in their job title into the CC box so everyone can have their (no doubt conflicting) say?
It’s a balance. The systems and signoffs are there for a reason. But too often they’re leaned on as a crutch due to lack of confidence, or fear of failing.
Of course, broadcasting the public directly into the council’s AGM meeting is high profile, will come with a level of risk, andthere will always be learning and things we wish we could have done better (I can’t wait to try live tweeting back to the questions, or even live video through Periscope). But with common sense, a little bit of care and a willingness to take responsibility, there’s no reason projects need to involve more people, or wait around for lengthy sign off policies, unless they’re especially sensitive.
Our latest full council was the most tweeted about we’ve ever had, with over a hundred tweets come in for the councillors. Next year will hopefully be even better.
The power of doing stuff. Just starting from a blank sheet and a first google search. Figuring out the options as you go and using our skills as communications professionals, can go a long way.
After all, it’s what we all got into this business to do, right?
Ben Tysoe is communications officer at Buckinghamshire County Council
image via Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums