On Engagement & Collaboration

A recent conversation got me thinking that over the years I have had the opportunity to dive deep into thinking about platforms for government enterprise collaboration and engagement.

This post is an attempt to gather some of artefacts created to capture and communicate what I learned when thinking about strategy. I don’t claim any ownership over these ideas, I am documenting them for those that want to build something better.

If you find anything useful or would like to chat please let me know. I may update this post with new items as time and interest allow.


For me, engagement means understanding your stakeholders, listening to their concerns and building relationships. This is hard enough on a personal level, but to do it at scale across a bureaucracy whose culture is to be non partisan and invisible increases the challenge.

Here are some things I have to contribute to the work to be done.

Engagement Hub Concept

This is the model that was originally posted on LinkedIn which became the impetus for this post. Various versions of it were posted on a wall beside my desk for years.

Here is the link to the post: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/thomk_someoneshouldbuildthis-activity-6819998667840229377-4f3r

GC Stakeholder map

In order to listen to and understand stakeholders at scale you need to have some idea of who they are.
A while ago a group of engagement specialists in GC thought it would be fun to see if we could come up with a shared view of GC Stakeholders – a generic framework that we could use to talk about and understand the many, many different stakeholder groups that the 300 or so departments and agencies serve. This slide and accompanying visualization was as far as we got.


The image is from a slide, here is the stakeholder map part in Kumu, circa 2015  https://kumu.io/thomkearney/gc-stakeholders

The Listening Machine

Between 2014 and 2018 I was part of the public engagement team for open government consultations to develop three biannual National Open Government Action Plans. Each time we did it we tried to make the data collection more transparent and robust. Even conducted some ML experiments to see if that could help us understand what we were hearing.

We got some good international kudos for the work, so I documented what we did as an aspirational case study on open policy making that includes a data management plan and associated protocols.

Title slide for a presentation called Building a listening machine. Includes a diagram of a 1857 invention to show the wave that sound creates.
Here a link to the presentation, which includes links to documents and details. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1NDFgymWM_TkxHPA2yqm24HTMpWaL6CT-ZHJY4PHgp_s/edit?usp=sharing


What does collaboration mean?

The answer to that question is that it depends.
Here is a post where I tried to explain it back in the day.

Collaboration Tools the Shirky Ladder

This post originally appeared as part of the GTEC 2013 Blog Collaboration is a word you hear a lot these days, and its one of GTEC13’s theme words.  In the Government of Canada (GC) Public Service context, the Chief Information Officer, Clerk of the Privy Council and the President of the Treasury board have all…

Keep reading

Collaboration Patterns

Here is an attempt at documenting requirements for enterprise collaboration. It does not feel like those making decisions about enterprise collaboration in the GC are paying attention to these kinds of things…

Connect with me if you want more details on this, I must have them somewhere….

GCpedia & Cloud Governance

Back in the day (2009 ish) our humble little wiki was a world leader in enabling government wide connection and knowledge sharing. This image was the secret governance plan.

I wrote more about governance and the creation experience for the World Social Science Forum.

There are tons of lessons buried in that experience that are often ignored when we purchase enterprise software.

Virtual Government Network?

After the GCpedia experience I was inspired to pursue this idea for a while and documented some thoughts. Apolitical is partially filling this need now, but I still think there might be a place for something like this. What do you think?

That’s all for now

There is more I am sure of it, but if this post is every going to see the light of day, it is time to stop.
Until next time that is.

Please leave a comment if you want to see more of this kind of thing.

About Thom Kearney

Change agent, teacher, arts, science, open government, father, mentor, storyteller, husband, dog owner,collaborator, not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Engagement, Open Government, Positive Change, Presentation, Work in Progress and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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