04 January 2011

Book: Rework

I just finished reading Rework by the 37 Signals team (Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson), a Christmas gift from my youngest son.  If you are not familiar with 37signals and their work I recommend checking them out.

The book provides an outline of the 37signals philosophy including tips and opinion.  It is aimed at small businesses, however, I think everyone from small business to large business to government organizations should read this book and think about how it might be applied to their work.

They don't say this explicitly but what the book is really about is rethinking some of the dogma of business-as-usual.  I have often thought that any organization that has an "innovation" branch is already in trouble.  If you read this book you'll find out why.  An innovative culture isn't something you can install, or force directly.  Innovative cultures happen by consistently rewarding innovation.  Sharing cultures happen by consistently rewarding sharing.  Organizations that consistently treat employees as untrustworthy, end up with a culture of fear and lack of trust.

For examples of how to do it right in a government context, I think the Province of BC is on the right track with their new B.C. Government Social Media Guidelines and their public statement of Open Data as Defining Principle No. 1 of their Citizens @ the Centre: B.C. Government 2.0 strategy. The very fact that these documents exist sends a signal to employees of a relatively large organization that they are trusted and empowered to engage citizens and empower citizens to create value from open government data.  This kind of positive reinforcement will go a long way to creating a culture of learning and trust as people come up to speed with the new tools of social media and open data.  Kudos to the folks that made this happen and the executives that supported them.  I look forward to seeing what they do next.

Creating an environment where innovation happens, where sharing is rewarded, where great work is recognized and where trust is leveraged is the hallmark of an organization that gets it.  37signals definitely gets it.  Rework is an easy and worthwhile read.  If you're interested in innovation in the workplace, I recommend you read it.

01 January 2011

Shipped in 2010

One of my favorite authours of all time is Seth Godin.  I purchase and read every book he writes and often give them as gifts.  One of the things Seth talks about is "shipping".  We use this term to describe the act of completing a project, getting it out the door.  It doesn't matter if it was a hit or not, it just matters that it's done.

In a recent blog post Seth encourages people to publish their list of things they shipped last year, because it's not something we often do.  I encourage everyone to 1) make your own list; and 2) read Seth's blog.

Here is a list of things that I shipped last year:
  • Launched OpenDataBC.ca
  • Identified 149 BC datasets from all levels of government
  • Created OpenDataBC Google Group which now has 70+ members
  • Established Open Government conference for BC
  • Held two hackathons for provinicial Apps for Climate Action Contest
  • Created Waterly.ca which won two awards including Best in BC (Yay!)
  • Participated in Google IO and OSCON conferences
  • Spoke on Open Data at the Ideawave conference
  • Sat on an Open Data panel at the Global Knowledge eGov conference
  • Accepted a CTO position with an exciting new Canadian startup
  • Held the first annual Victoria International Open Data Hackathon
  • Developed DataZoomer version 4
  • 25 blog posts
  • 500+ tweets
This isn't the entire list of things I worked on.  I worked on many other things that either failed or that I didn't ship (yet).  I also didn't do this alone.  I was fortunate to be able to work with a bunch of dedicated and talented people this year.

2010 was a great year of learning and I look forward to an exciting 2011.