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.

1 comment:

Gwynne Kostin said...

Candi, thanks! But, as you know, the great success here is from the leadership of ALL the web managers in ALL of the agencies.

Web managers in government have worked to embrace the lane strategy, to communicate this strategy to their leadership, and very importantly, to defend the strategy by staying in their information lanes and helping others to do the same.

Web 2.0 is defined by collaboration and when you look at the widget and the links--to FEMA, to HHS, to usa.gov, to volunteer.gov--and all of the federal, state, private sector and individual blogs and websites using it, you see collaboration. And just below that surface is a bunch of great, forward-looking leaders who are using new communications tools to help victims and their families locate the information they need for recovery.