Brett McCall

Producer, technoNative


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How do we make Bureaucracy sexy?

The first thing that came to mind was changing the branding..
Ok, if the real work of government happens below the 6 inch layer of politics in the realm of bureaucracy then how do we change the story so people are excited to be involved?
Jennifer Pahlka says "We have to engage with the machinery of government."
I am looking for ways to become more bureaucratically active!!! How do we?!?
We need to give a voice to a new generation... but this generation needs to be invited in!
I want to know how to maximize everyone's engagement in the dialog and awareness of issues related to them locally, regionally, nationally and internationally!

Omar Ahmad suggests "We live in a digital world but we're fairly analog creatures." So, is there a need for the novel act of writing?! Maybe, but I am not convinced.

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    Mar 13 2012: Same way you make other things sexy - peel away some of the layers! :-D
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    Mar 11 2012: It is painfully obvious that the bipartisan system is broken, but the dichotomy that we face is that it takes money to build a new model!

    We make it sexy by providing new tools to the citizen that engage them in such a way that they feel their voice is heard and has effect. "We the people" can be redefined under the pretense of social network extensions.
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      Mar 11 2012: Really like what you said. I'm always trying to network with people like you. I'm all for supporting your idea my concern is the people that cant or wont embrace a change to their government for the better.people need to see consistent flow and progress from their effort or they will stop being apart of the effort.
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      Mar 20 2012: There are game mechanics that will compel people to come back again and again. These must be involved.. I agree with Seth Preibatsh that the Game Layer will define this decade.
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      Mar 20 2012: i understand your busy and have prioritys and thats were i think we all need to focus. we all have short attention spans because of are own intrests my opinion not that is if time money resources are the factors to resolving threating current issues we should construct a new kind of crisis managment orginazation like the red cross but with more authority? I would like your insight to my solution to current world priorities we all want resolved. Governments use armies to combat their interest if this can be made into a world topic it has the potential to end wars. we connect the dots before the decision makers try and feed the people a ultimatum? please pass this idea to your friends if you find the time we could make this real and possible in a matter of weeks thanks to the interment maybe faster, ok be well
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    Mar 9 2012: First, thanks for the link to Omar Ahmad's talk. I hadn't seen that before and it exactly mirrors (with updates) what was told to me by a successful lobbyist many years ago.

    Second *branding*??!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I would like to consign step and repeat to the 9th level of hell. The product creates the brand not the brand the product.

    Let me tell you what I've done with this talk so far- I emailed everyone I (already) know in local government saying "Listen to the Possum talk!". I doubled up on that with a facebook post. I posted on twitter and "followed" Jen Pahlka on her twitter feed. This clued me in to a kickstarter initiative which Jen supports- a ballot design initiative which (wait for it) is something my local government has been trying to find a solution for.

    So far- all digital. I can go digital with people I've already met face to face (or went to high school with). *However* if I wanted to make headway at the State and Federal level- I'd pick up a pen. It's a matter of standing out amidst the overall background of noise and that pen and paper thing really does work.

    So, what makes it sexy? Any marketeer will tell you. Marketing is about 3 things. People, People and People. All business is personal.
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      Mar 20 2012: Ziska: I love your perspective.
      What is the application of People People People? It sounds like a strategy that is augmented by social network.
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        Mar 20 2012: Thanks Bret.

        "All politics is local."

        Strategies are pretty simple and very much the same as classic social networking.

        Be polite.
        Show up.
        Don't just talk about yourself.
        Find shared interests.
        Be responsive.
        Be concise.
        Be consistent.
        Compromise on the small stuff.
        If people are getting huffy- post a picture of a puppy.
        Be polite.
        • Mar 21 2012: Americans tend to think of technology as sexy, but what's truly sexy is human connection. To push the sex analogy, Viagra may be quick and easy, but it's only useful when sexiness itself isn't working.

          To make bureaucracy sexy, think of ways to get "the hands" connected to hearts. One of the most effective campaign organizers I know got people excited about coming in again and again to stuff envelopes because she realized that these were human beings who were fueled by the connection to the rest of the team.

          Create teams of "hands" by feeding the bodies they are attached to with meaningful conversation, shared vision, shared dreaming, and then you'll have a whole lot of bureaucratic chemistry going on.
  • Mar 21 2012: Brett, this is a fabulously sexy question. I'm going to use it to foster discussion elsewhere.
  • Mar 9 2012: I really liked this talk-
    The following are some elements that I see coming to play on the subject of "making bureaucracy sexy" and "maximizing engagement":
    1. Make people care - The choice to respond or not to respond internalizes the problem which grants the problem more inherent value. Internalize to make people care.
    2. Make it easy - Find a problem and answer it. Job well done (ex. Citizens Connect and the possum). Now if it was required that you make the extra effort to perform the act that you suggested, would the program work as well? I tend to think not. Make it easy.
    3. Make it fun. - The "gamification" elements seem to be the grease on the wheels (ex. uncover a fire hydrant, then name it. First to do it wins.)
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      Mar 9 2012: Simple steps, like the ones Omar Ahmad defines, plus game dynamics and I can imagine a pretty awesome recipe for creating change deep in the bureaucracy.. but how?!
      With whom?
      And for what change?! On some level I want political mavins to show up and guide the way.
      • Mar 21 2012: Brett, the answers are usually right in front of us. Political mavens can only open our eyes to what we pretty much already know. We just need structure.

        You've asked a most excellent question. What we need is a a specific case to apply all these ideas to, so I will ask you another question:

        What specific and observable problem would you like to see see sexy bureaucracy seduce?

        By specific and observable, I mean something small enough and concrete enough that we could put it on video. (That would include audio and text if it's an example of a type of discussion that leads to a problem.)
  • Mar 17 2012: I'm not sure the question is framed in the best way. I see the point you're trying to get and and the problem you're trying to solve. But making bureaucracy sexier isn't the answer. Last time I checked, crazy/ignorant/ people like sexy too...
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    Mar 17 2012: The bureaucracy would be sexy if it attracted people into it and involved more people within them. To made it happened, we need something to act as bridge because the gap between government and the people is too wide to jump over. Technology and the people behind it can be that bridge. Through them, we can get more people involved in the government process. But first, we need to make civilian realizes their ownership of the government. Therefore, they will start using their hands rather than their mouth
  • Mar 16 2012: Brett,
    Great meeting you the other day with me Dad Tyler Martin.

    I brainstormed the following for our new government 2.0 on the way to Asheville. Plan on making a video to pass in front of you, but here it is in writing. Hope you like some of the ideas:


    Free to get 2 people--- efficiency experts and common person (former supply officer, comptroller, cpa, financial planner, or other in money biz)
    going to federal, state, county, and city government
    -Use 100% of EOY spending average from previous 3 years
    These people will have a website to publish documentaries of government spending in spending order sequence and proposals for organizations in spending order sequence.
    -Movies to watch in priority sequence
    -Privatize all government can

    Government jobs limited to 10 Years Total
    -Any government jobs limited to 10 years total. All jobs city, county, state, and federal count toward the 10 years. So, no person can work more than a total of 10 years in government jobs.

    No government jobs get retirements except military
    -no retirements except military on tax payer dime. New military retirement get full retirement for 7 years, then 50% for middle 20 years then back full at age 60 or so.
    -Limit government top jobs $45k 10% or less, middle $35k 20% or less, low $25k
    federal, state, county, and city
    -Current government employees and retirees cut retirement to the following
    Top retirement pension $40k, 30k, and 20k
    -Of course double dipping goes away
    Stop the Revolving Door of politicians and government workers going to regulatory agencies
    -People doing like jury duty to decide who works at regulatory agencies
    -look at my expenses total and figure out what person on disability requires. See how this compares with Housing, food stamps, and other bureacracies where perhaps they could get straight cash and all bureacracy goes away.
    Please pitch to TED to include a 'GOVERNMENT CATEGORY
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    Mar 15 2012: Why is politics sexy? Or, even better, what makes poitics sexy? Money? Visibility? Praise? Power? Gossip? I guess that whatever makes politics sexy can make bureaucracy sexy as well. Where I come from (Italy), bureacracy is often seen as a grey dusty machine which works by inertia. where the civil servants have little o no impact on the outcome. And when people with a little bit of spark try to impact on it they engage in a battle with regulations, laws, controls. So I guess that what bureacracy lacks is FREEDOM: freedom to change, to act, to dream . On top of that there's no story to tell, there's no narrative, there's no gossip, there's no people. Do you think is still possible to inject a little bit of SPARK in bureacracy?
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    Mar 11 2012: The fundamental problem with bureaucracy is that it is formed from the top down. The key to resolving this problem is to work from the bottom up. Google "Lean government", there are some phenomenal sucess stories. By the way this is a concept that is integral to the U.S. Constitution by virtue of it's focus on the individual.
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    Mar 10 2012: Employing only women for doing the bureaucratic work .
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    Mar 9 2012: For me, this is a tough one. Bureaucracy in government is confrontational, political, secretive, and hard work (you did specify gov't bureaucracy) - possibly good fore-play, but not necessarily attractive. Not only that, but most people are so stressed by just living, that they have little time and energy to devote to societal issues. Here though, I believe technology can truly save this issue. As you infer, people are not involved enough in gov't bureaucracy, but look at how much 'talk on line' there is about it! Huge. It seems people are concerned and want to be involved, it just takes so much to be heard - and it's complicated and time intensive. So maybe, in this case, it's truly about ease of access. I think political involvement is already sexy, you just can't get into the bar.