Saturday, September 20, 2008

Leading Strategically

Gwynne Kostin, web manager at Homeland Security, jumped right into a leadership role after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. A member of the federal Web Managers Council, Gwynne marshaled government web managers into information “lanes” and managed a governmentwide effort to provide consistent, concise information for hurricane victims, relatives, and friends. It was a real milestone in the government web manager community –the first time we really worked together to create and manage content on a specific topic, across government websites. Gwynne recognized a management problem and stepped in to provide a strategy and the leadership to solve it.

Since then, Gwynne has led subsequent disaster responses, improving the process each time. She doesn’t wait to be told what to do. She just does it. That’s real leadership.

Now, Gwynne has done it again. As part of the government’s most recent response to devastating hurricanes, Gwynne developed a “widget” – a piece of computer code – that shows 6 simple links:

Federal Hurricane Response

  • Get Prepared
  • Find Friends & Family
  • Health & Safety
  • Donate & Volunteers
  • What Government Is Doing
  • En espanol

This widget appears on the Homeland Security website and – from there - can be copied by other web managers and placed on their own websites, helping the public get the same consistent hurricane information from the government, no matter which website they visit. It saved time and effort for individual web managers because they didn’t have to replicate or create their own set of links; and it provides commonality across government, a bonus for the public. Once again, Gwynne identified a management problem – need for quick, consistent information across government – and used a web 2.0 technology to solve it.

One of my greatest concerns about the Web 2.0 revolution is that web managers will use these technologies and applications because they’re “cool” – not because they are the right solution to a management problem or goal. Gwynne Kostin has demonstrated the right way – the strategic way - to do it. That’s real leadership.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Inventory Is A Place to Start

24,000 + federal government websites…where do you begin to address that massive amount of clutter (not to mention overlap, waste, vanity, etc.)? A good inventory is a place to start.

Federal web managers would be doing their new bosses – and all Americans – a big favor if they just simply count the websites. Collect basic data:

  • Title
  • URL (.gov, .mil,, .com, .edu – come on…ferret out all those hidden sites!)
  • Purpose (that should be entertaining)
  • Average monthly visitors (unique visitors per month, over a 3-6 month period)
  • Cost (ah-ha! No cheating. Count FTE – both full-time and at least half-time, contracts, and IT costs, at a minimum)
  • Calculate a cost/visitor ratio

Put it all together (Web Managers Council) and see what you’ve got.

Want to help the next President (and his team) figure out what they’ve got and what they need to do next? Start with an inventory. I double-dog dare you.