A few months ago, I posted on the idea of creating a maker culture in government, and have been making interesting progress (I use the term loosely) in the meantime. Looking back, I see my thoughts on it weren’t particularly well focused, only because the challenges weren’t really well explored.
To date, not much has changed. The major challenge remains, namely, developing a sense of community in a public organization that’s built on control. The details would make this a painfully long and confusing post, so I’ll not get into them. I will say, however, that I’m working on developing an internal structure designed to manage this dichotomy directly - to find a way to build a structure of community without unnecessarily threatening those who currently have control.
I’ve branded the approach as “minding the gap” (even borrowing the well-known icon prevalent in subways throughout the UK). In this case, I mean it as identifying problems in the way we manage and adopt technology and proposing better ways to do it without requiring significant reorganization.
With this as a platform and buy-in from higher-level staff (which I have), I need to garner buy-in at the lower levels - the people who actually do the work / exercise the control and would likely view this effort as a direct threat. The concept of community, especially as expressed in open source software development, is almost entirely alien here, but I feel it’s the right idea.
I realize this is a large and rather vaguely-defined question, but it must be one others have faced, though I don’t know of any good examples.
To articulate the question as clearly as I can,
How does one develop a structure of community and contribution toward managing a large organization’s technology problems when centralized control is (and always has been) the dominant strategy?
And yes, I have Jono Bacon’s book. And I’ve gone through at least some of it.