Getting beyond Get On Twitter – leadership in digital era

OS building

So I pitched a session at UK Bluelight Camp today to understand what delegates thought that 999 leaders needed to acquire in order to make services that will be fit for a digital era: we need to think what impact is social technology having on society and how to make our services fit for 10 and 20 years time. This is also relevant to the Networked Councillors programme that I work on. Any form of public leadership really.

The group found it truly painful to get beyond  – “they need to use twitter and effectively. And some do. And some don’t.” We had social media surveillance discussions, we had PR discussions, we had front line morale discussions. We didn’t really get far beyond twitter to be honest. I threw in “imagine how technology in homes for health and social care could be used for preventing crime and fire”, “what if sensors on cars auto-share information about situations using the social web and you don’t need to curate or manage that data but it goes to the public direct?”

In a way I feel like thinking about twitter rather socio-economic changes in a digital era is like talking about the spinning jenny rather than the industrial revolution. There is no doubt that how we live will change super fast.

One of the reasons given for… I really want to reflect on how we use twitter was:



So what impact scenarios do we have on the impact of the digital era and how to shape our organisations? We don’t but I found out that one, in my opinion, rather bright council policy wonk was at the conference and said..but Shell Oil do.

Pretty much there are two ways the world can go in this era shift say Shell for the purposes of their business planning.

The first is that we have a super corporate transactional relationship with public services. Taxes become more hypotheticated to actual service provision. You use this to encourage less use. This is the Mountain scenario. In this consumer scenario, Shell think gas is the investment choice.

The second scenario is a more equal relationship with citizens. Power is more shared and fluid between state and citizens. It means that tax is only one responsibility and connection the citizen has for their community. One part of a whole. They are not passive recipients of a service. In this scenario Shell believe solar is the investment choice.

Interesting this is completely apolitical…it is bigger than politics.I think the second scenario is more likely, but maybe because I am optimistic and I want it to be true.

How does the 999 leader or Local Gov leader respond to this? What skills do they need? What environment should they provide internally?

Answers on a postcard or just comment below!!

Emma aka @huxley06



5 thoughts on “Getting beyond Get On Twitter – leadership in digital era

  1. Very interesting. I’d like to understand what you mean by ‘leadership’ because I’m wondering if one can ever digitise that (depending on what you think leadership is). As a councillor I have to ask: am I in a leadership role and, if so, am I a better one for using social media?

    Interested to understand more about the two scenarios particularly with respect to their correlation to taxes.

  2. You’re right that this relates to lots of leadership situations, though I suspect the public sector is one of the toughest nuts to crack. It’s only three years since I heard a senior elected member of a large NE England local authority tell a meeting that he was waiting for “all this fuss about the internet to die down, so that we can go back to doing things properly.”

    Many who lead in local government (for example) have very narrow skill sets. Historically, you got ahead by being very, very good at something, not by being well versed in lots of things. True of officers as well as politicians. Social media skills have too long been presented by many (not just comms people) as being “a bit risky”, and all parts of the public sector are notoriously risk averse. Thus, I hear people patting themselves on the back for having recently learned the most basic social media skills and appearing content to rest on their laurels. Where is the incentive to go beyond Twitter when Twitter exposes your chronic lack of communication skills and people start being beastly (aka honest) with you? My own Borough Councillor has already discovered the “block” button on Twitter and blocked me some time ago after I tweeted to him the words “I disagree with you.”

    I don’t have a solution to offer, I’m sorry to say. The innovation to adoption time lag on things like this never has been good in the public sector and my fear is that it isn’t going to improve greatly while real-time communication is regarded as a risk and the culture still doesn’t embrace failure as a welcome aspect of learning.

  3. Pingback: Networked Councillor – leading in shifting sands | huxley06

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