DorobekInsider

Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for February 10th, 2009

More changes at 1105 GovInfo — Group publisher Evillee Ebb exits

with one comment

hpMore changes for the 1105 Government Information Group — Group Publisher Evilee Ebb is leaving. Insiders tell me that she has another job lined up — not in the government or government IT market, but they say that she isn’t saying anything at the moment.

Ebb was hired more than a year ago as group publisher for the 1105 Government Information Group, which includes Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News, Washington Technology. Of course, 1105 GovInfo also owns the FOSE trade show.

Ebb came to 1105 after more than 19 years at IDG Communications and, specifically, Network World, where she was able to grow the publications online brand. But Ebb was based out of Massachusetts and many 1105GovInfo’ers said that hindered her success in the government market, which is so Beltway based.

Here is the portion of the note sent to staff from 1105 Media CEO Neal Vitale:

We have also decided that GIG needs a strong, day-to-day sales and marketing leader based full-time in Falls Church. To that end, we are in the midst of a formal search for a Vice President of Sales & Marketing for GIG to replaceEvilee Ebb, and hope to have made a hiring decision before the end of the first quarter. Evilee is leaving the company at the end of this month, and I would like to thank her for all her contributions to GIG and 1105.

The name buzzing around around the Falls Church, VA 1105 GovInfo headquarters: Jeff Calore, who is currently the publisher at Hanley Wood Business Media and previously served as 1105 GovInfo’s general manager.

Ebb’s departure comes amid a number of changes at 1105 GovInfo, including the hiring of David Rapp to be the editor in chief of Federal Computer Week magazine and the editorial director of the 1105 Government Information Group… the sale of Government Health IT magazine … and a decision not to publish a scheduled issue of GCN… and a change in editorial leadership at 1105’s Defense Systems.

The move comes amid some of the most difficult times for media — Time magazine’s cover story this week by Walter Isaacon is headlined, How to save your newspaper… and WBUR radio’s On Point earlier in the week had a program debating the future of publishing. The past year has been particularly difficult for government publications given the perfect storm of the economic crisis combined with the typical pre-presidential election slowdown that comes with a administration transition. And 1105 is not alone. Federal Times is reportedly going to reduce its frequency.

In 1105’s announcement, Vitale also told staffers that 1105 Media’s Security Products, Occupational Health & Safety and Environmental Protection groups will become part of the 1105 Government Information Group, led by 1105 GovInfo President Anne Armstrong. Rapp will take on editorial oversight of those groups.

Read the details of the changes in Vitale’s note to staff after the break.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 10, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Posted in press

Tagged with ,

More on the government innovation oxymoron video

with 5 comments

I’ve been getting a lot of comments about the video I pointed to yesterday called “Stifling Innovation.”

In fact, I’m re-posting the video again for those of you who may have missed it.

The video made me ponder — as I think it made many of you ponder as well. (I’ve been getting a lot of comments about it.) I think it touched so many people because it is not unique to government contractors… it is not really unique to government, in my opinion. But one government person, posting onFacebook, said:

The video portrayed a contractor shut down by govvies, but it happens to govvies too, and I believe there are innovative govvies out there. Though the video is true in a lot of cases, I believe there are those in government who do innovate, despite the resistance.

And I think he is right on. In fact, I think this is true at many organizations.

I mentioned that I spoke to the Web team over at HHS last week — and I’m just about finished with a post with lessons learned from our conversation. But I told them that one of my least favorite phrases in the world — and you often hear it in government — is, ‘That’s not the way we do things.’ They are seven words that sap the life out of any innovation whatsoever. Yet, when I was talking to them about the EPA plan to seek additional public comment on rules, I could see it on their faces — ‘That’s not the way we do things.’ One person even said, ‘What if we get 10,000 comments?’ YES — wouldn’t it be great if some government rule generated 10,000 comments? Isn’t that something that we should celebrate? In fact, I think agencies should allow those comments to be posted in a public way so people can rate other people’s comments the way Amazon.com asks you if a review was helpful.

Change is so difficult. We all understand that. And change in government is particularly difficult for a whole lot of reasons including the ‘that’s not the way we do things’… including the lack of ability to tolerate mistakes… including the iterations of stovepipes at almost every level… There are many reasons that this is difficult.

Back to the video… the first posting of the video was apparently over NASA’s Wayne Hale’s blog — and you have to give credit to NASA for allowing this to be posted. (Want to see the power of blogging? Talk about starting a conversation with a post.)

I feel like the early civil right pioneers must feel; the overt bad behavior is gone underground. People say the right things in public discussion of how they should act, then behave in the bad old ways in small or private settings.

Since these behaviors are still being practiced at NASA, here is what I believe managers need to do

1. Break out of the sandbox. Even if it is not your area, the agency needs the best ideas to succeed in our goals. If you have subordinates who have ideas for improving other areas, it is important to get those ideas into the open where they can compete in the marketplace of ideas, or at least get a technical review.

2. If subordinate has an idea that has been tried before and didn’t work, consider that times may have changed and it might work now or with improvements that you know of. In the final extremity, your subordinate needs more than the curt dismissal that its been tried before and didn’t work – you need to explain it to them.

3. Managers at all levels need to provide safe places and times for interaction that skips levels in the chain of command.

“The video portrayed a contractor shut down by govvies, but it happens to govvies too, and I believe there are innovative govvies out there. Though the video is true in a lot of cases, I believe there are those in government who do innovate, despite the resistance.”

Read his full post here.

Hale has also thought about the video — and the comments — more… and he had this follow-up post :

One of the reasons that the video so powerfully affected me was that I have been on both sides of the table. Oh yeah, I have stifled plenty of dissent and innovation in my time. Some of it even recently. I believe that I am a better manager and leader than I was five years ago, or even one year ago. And, God willing, I will be a better and more open manager next year or five years from now. So if you hear stories about “bad Wayne”, well, they are probably true. I wish they weren’t. But my goal is to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday. And I am daily astonished and amazing by learning something that I didn’t know the day before.

Finally, I would like to say that my purpose in writing these blogs is to help NASA become a better place. Sometimes that takes the form of telling a story from the ‘old days’ — but always a story with a point. Sometimes it is describing a good example of leadership; sometimes it is pointing out a bad example — to be avoided. Sometimes a post is merely an attempt to explain some arcane aspect of what we are doing to the general public in a way that I hope is comprehensible to the layperson. So my post on stifling dissent is nothing more than an attempt to help the NASA culture become better than it is.

With the greatest of respect to all my colleagues, I think NASA is the best hope for our country and our world. If the current organization is less than perfect, that is because it is made up of fragile and limited human beings. Every one of those NASA employees that I have met have only one goal: doing what is best and most productive to explore the universe. We don’t always succeed, and we certainly don’t always agree on the interim goals but we are united in a common purpose. There is nowhere else I would care to work.

Read the full post here.

More comments… and seeking your assessment of it… after the break…
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 10, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Meet the Innovators: Richard Allen on UK’s Power of Information Task Force

leave a comment »

Last week, I mentioned the Power of Information Task Force beta report, which looks at the British government’s implementation of government 2.0.

On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris Monday, as part of our “Meet the Innovators” series, we spoke to Richard Allen , Cisco’s Government Affairs Director in Europe and the chairman the UK government Power of Information Task Force.

You can hear our conversation hereread the report here… and offer your comments on the report here.

Written by cdorobek

February 10, 2009 at 6:35 AM