Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Future of Federal Web Page Design?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched It's currently in beta and it allows a visitor to choose from eight customized dashboards to accommodate their specific interests and/or needs of different industries (e.g. consumer, media, etc.). Or users can create their own personal dashboard using a combination of 22 different agency widgets that correspond to a publication or agency activity.

I love this for a lot of reasons. When the White House announced that it was freezing the issue of new .GOV URL's for three months and putting the existing federal agencies domain list under review, there was internal rumblings from federal contractors and government workers that a streamlining of government Web sites could lead to the cancellation of key program micro sites or even designated government URLs to highlight specific programs. This lead to fear that promoting and highlighting key services to taxpayers on owned government digital channels would become a gatekeeping nightmare and that programs would be unable to provide information demonstrating the effectiveness of their promotion strategy as related to program performance.

What I like about is that it seemingly resolves the issue of providing relevant information to multiple stakeholders by allowing visitors to the site to determine what content is most relevant to them. I also think this approach will hopefully address the concern of what content is presented on a federal agency's home page, avoiding any editorial squabbles over which programs to highlight.

I like that the site has the ability for a user to sign in and save customized dashboard experiences using existing social media and online accounts such as Facebook, AOL, Google, OpenID, Twitter and Yahoo. I hope this trend of personalization of government services continues.

What do you think of Is it a step in the right direction?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Strategic Agility & Learning Agility

As we close 2011, I am struck once again by the profound evolution of our industry. As I reflect on this year professionally and set goals for 2012, I am reminded of the advice given to me by Sheri Leonardo, one of the best human resource professionals I have ever worked with. She said the two hardest things to cultivate in an employee are strategic agility and learning agility.

Strategic agility comes with experience and knowledge over time. It's recognizing opportunities/threats and then swiftly taking action as appropriate to modify and optimize initiatives to maximize performance and achieve stated goals. We all (hopefully) acquire this ability as our careers develop and change over time.

Learning agility is the ability to continually develop and refine one's skills in a profession throughout your career and apply that knowledge to new situations. It's using transferable skills to grow your own understanding to solve new challenges. It requires ongoing learning and consumption of information. It's more than "staying current." It's actively seeking new challenges and knowledge to address issues and achieve goals.

Sheri's words echo in my head as we move into 2012. While I know some organizations make great investments in ongoing training and development for employees, it is important to recognize that continued professional and personal development is not "up to companies," but up to the individual.

What are some of the skills you want to develop in 2012? Are there good resources you would recommend to fellow professional communicators looking to expand their knowledge and learn something new?