Can BetterMeans Mean Better Government?

[This post originally appeared on the OpenSF blog.]

Working in the public sector can be challenging, especially during those times when the strict hierarchy of government dictates priorities, timelines and tasks. Unfortunately, without rejiggering the machinations of government, this top down approach will not change anytime soon. Of course, that hasn’t stopped all of us in the Government 2.0 movement from hoping and dreaming that we can begin to change the lumbering institutions at the local level all the way up to the federal. As this blog can attest, that change has begun, but incrementally. So maybe we do need to think beyond web technologies and open data to question the social structures which make change in government so difficult.

Look no further than BetterMeans, a radical open enterprise governance model masquerading as a slick new project management tool.

Now that’s change we can believe in.

The software itself is a neat mix of project management and social capital platform that opens up the doors to the decision-making process for a given project or set of projects. Users contribute ideas to the projects which hold their interest in an open and transparent way. Users themselves are ranked by others that have worked with them on previous projects so that everyone is kept accountable. This collaborative approach then helps the group rank options for how to proceed based on the experience and insight of the entire group instead of relying solely on direction from management. Definitely check out the video above, you’ll see how well thought out this platform really is.

So, getting back to government. What is our tolerance for really incorporating the ideas of every member of a team? What would happen if our departments were more democratic in sourcing ideas and setting priorities? Or what if our elected officials were required to balance their agendas alongside those of rank and file public employees, or the general public at large? It might be pie in the sky, but I’m guessing that we’d garner more than a few great ideas, while engaging and inspiring a whole swath of disinterested civil servants. Just a thought.

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