41. Ask for input

Watching the crowds gather for today’s inauguration is amazing.  It is evident that people care again.  Today’s events are the culmination of a massive exercise in participation.

People want a say in the every day realities that affect their lives.  It’s as true in the work world as it is in government representation.  The Barack Obama campaign and transition teams understood this and provided an outlet for people to participate by asking for input.

my.BarackObama.com was the foundation of organization for the campaign: it allowed supporters to interact with each other through an online social network.  More importantly it provided the opportunity for over a million people to express themselves with the perception (reality or not) that the campaign was listening to their thoughts.

After the election the transition team launched Change.gov—again, asking people to provide input.

Your Seat at the Table allowed the American public to comment on transition team work that traditionally was held behind closed doors:

This means we’re inviting the American public to take a seat at the table and engage in a dialogue about these important issues and ideas — at the same time members of our team review these documents themselves.

Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle asked for participation in the health care reform process through discussion parties held during the holidays that encouraged particpants to report back with suggestions on moving the debate forward.  Aside from health care, any number of issues can be commented on.

Most recently the Obama transition team announced the Citizen’s Briefing Book which is a tool that allows citizens to prepare briefings.  The briefings are voted upon by others with the highest-rated briefings being placed in a book for review by the White House.  Another opportunity to provide input.

Hospitals can do the same and the internet makes it all possible.  Provide a platform for employees, physicians, patients, community, etc. to express their thoughts.  Allow stakeholders to provide input and devise a strategy for addressing any concerns they may have.  It’s a simple idea, really; but it has powerful possibilities.

Principle #41: People enjoy being a part of something.  our own system will give them the opportunity to do so.  Engagement, empowerment, and excitement all become possible when you allow people to particpate.  Just ask.

Bonus: Wired has a great story on the challenges the Obama campaign faces in continuing its trek to bring government into the social media world.

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