The Gov 2.0 Expo has been a pretty amazing experience, speaking aside. I’ve met some really great people working at hyperlocal levels of government on extremely cool, forward-thinking means of connecting with their citizens. Sometimes you have to really have to embed at these events to get a good understanding of their value, and this one delivered.

I’ll write up a more in-depth analysis of the event once I’ve had some time to think on things. But in the meantime, here’s video of my 5-minute presentation from Tuesday’s Keynote Kickoff. (Thanks to the fine people at O’Reilly Media for recording, livestreaming and promoting this!)

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Just hit SEND on the final “Instituting a Culture of AWESOME in Government” preso to be delivered at the Gov 2.0 Expo this week. I’m up at 5:55pm on Tuesday at the Washington Convention Center. If you happen to be in town and catch me, shoot me a holler on Twitter so we can connect later. There’s a social or some shit like that after the keynote Tuesday, and I’d love to hear how AWESOME my delivery was. ūüėČ

I’m a complete stranger to Ignite-style briefing: 20 slides, 5 minutes, 15 seconds per slide. It’s either gonna be a fun exercise in bullshittery or a complete shit-show. HOWF!

For folks who aren’t going to make it to the Expo, I’ve uploaded the preso here for your viewing pleasure. Please feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you think. I’m going to try and get video of the actual Day-Of, so be on the lookout for that in subsequent posts.

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I’m using this post as a testing ground of sorts with which to work out the design of my 5-minute Gov 2.0 Expo talk on May 25th, 2010. As a result what you are about to read may seem random and disjointed at first. Fair warning.

I think what I’ll probably do is develop the case study as a full-on post for Must. Be. AWESOME!!! so that interested folks from the expo can come here and read through the entire narrative. What I’ll need to do then is make the 5-minute preso more of a pitch for people to come back and get the full effect. Plus, it’ll be a great place to start a conversation about the Tech Team, share experiences, continue analyzing, etc.

Original Pitch

“Instituting a Culture of AWESOME in Government: The Case of the IED Task Force Tech Team”

  • Purpose 1: Demonstrate how gov entities can exude¬†AWESOME
  • Purpose 2: Extract lessons (positive & negative) from case study
  • Contraints: 45-min preso time shortened to 5 minutes — warrants major curtailing in presentation of findings

Major Themes in Research/Interviews

  • Righteous mission: helping to save soldiers’ lives
  • Brotherhood: team exceptionally loyal to one another, inside & outside of work
  • Fellowship: people & job were fun – weekly happy hours & grill-outs
  • Leadership: BG Votel ¬†and LTC Jost took risks, backed up his people every time

Lessons Learned

  • The right mix of personalities will enable AWESOME in any enterprise.
  • AWESOME activity creates swarm of “antibodies” (naysayers, can’t-do’s, etc).
  • People will give 18hrs/day if the activity is AWESOME.
  • Small, super-empowered teams can change everything if given the chance.
  • Cults of personality and rabid positivity will engender loyalty between all echelons.
  • Middle management worked for team members, not vice versa.
  • The business of AWESOME is inherently and unavoidably social.
  • Ad hoc, task force structure engendered agility, effectiveness, & ownership.
  • Permanizing the organization destroyed team cohesion & introduced stagnation & irrelevance.

Unanswered Questions

  • How transferrable is this case to other parts of government?
  • If JIEDDO was borne of the Tech Team / JIEDDTF, then wasn’t the organization a failure? (because JIEDDO pretty much sucks today)

The IED Task Force Tech Team (circa 2004)

A note on formatting: I’m also currently fooling around with Prezi, a new web-based system of designing presentations that purports to help design better presentations by forcing you to think creatively, visually, and using mind-mapping techniques. The videos make it seem pretty cool, and I was considering using this for my Gov 2.0 preso. However, I’m concerned that the Gov 2.0 staff isn’t ready for the newness of Prezi (I’m not even sure of the file formats supported), and I’ve only got a few weeks to play around with it. Further, despite the New York Times‘ recent story on how tired of PowerPoint everyone in the Defense establishment is, everyone’s still using it and everyone’s used to seeing it.

In 5 minutes’ time, I’m not even sure the benefits of Prezi would be worth it. Still, I may do a longer version of the talk in Prezi to post here on the blog at a later date. We’ll have to see what the future demand looks like for this case study.

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A wrench got thrown into my Gov 2.0 Expo preso planning while I was picking myself up a bride Down South. It actually made me question whether I wanted to go through with it at all. However, after some hard thinking, I’m putting on the smiley face and taking my cheek-splitters like a man.

Let me explain.

The Gov 2.0 organizers contacted me about my presentation, “Instituting a Culture of AWESOME in Government: The Case of the IED Task Force Tech Team,” a couple weeks ago. They told me that they were altering the format of the conference and that my presentation was being shortened from the originally proposed 50 minutes to FIVE minutes. Apparently, they thought it would be so much cooler if they bunched in a ton of 5 minute “rapid fire” presos around the keynote address. There were a lot of platitudes about how great my proposal was and how AWESOME it would be condensed to 5 minutes.

How do you “condense” a case study, which by definition is the result of an analysis? It’s like saying, “Hey, dude, I love your book! Can you give me a pamphlet version?” Considering how much effort I’ve already put into researching this topic, a FIVE MINUTE presentation does the material – especially this material – a disservice.

I wrote the organizers back expressing my discontent but also offering an alternative: how about I come up with something else related to creating AWESOME culture in government that I could adequately fit in the time limit?¬†Apparently, the organizers¬†really wanted the IED Task Force Tech Team case study but felt it wasn’t topical enough to warrant a full panel. They adamantly demanded I present the same topic as originally proposed. Basically, do it or hit the road, jack.

Now this all sounds like inside baseball and dirty laundry, but I’m recounting it to demonstrate something. Despite the sheer shittiness of the situation, it forced me to sit down and think hard about what I was being asked to do. Is it worth taking a stand against this tomfoolery? Should I risk standing behind my material if it means getting kicked off the ticket? Is it even possible to give a good presentation on my original topic under these new circumstances? Am I betraying my AWESOME if I cave to these new demands? In this case, can you still be AWESOME living on a compromise?

At the end of the day, I accepted… and here’s why:

  • I can’t trade the exposure I’ll get at this conference at this stage of my career.
  • It will be an even more challenging exercise boiling my preso down to something entertaining and valuable.
  • I think I can still deliver an AWESOME preso.
  • Who knows what I can get away with on the day of?

Don’t be mistaken though: I’m not compromising on this. I’m acceding to the organizers’ demands. I think that’s an important distinction.

All that said, though, I’m still gonna fucking ROCK this expo. Fifty minutes, five minutes, whatever. It’s just less time into which I gotta pack a more concentrated dose of AWESOME.

So bring a spare pair of panties– IT’S ON.

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A couple months ago, I told y’all about submitting a proposal to the Gov 2.0 Expo occurring in May. It is with glad jazz hands that I can tell you my proposal, “Instituting a Culture of AWESOME in Government,” was accepted by the Expo committee! I’m now listed as a speaker alongside some pretty frickin’ AWESOME company (like Gary V!).

As promised, I’m going to blog about this experience. It’s really the first time I’ve ever had the chance to analyze and put forth a case that’s totally unique (at least in my opinion), so I’m really excited about the opportunity. I am deep into collecting data for the case study, and one method I’m using to do this has been reaching out to former members of the IED Task Force Tech Team for stories, pictures, and other info that may help my analysis. It’s been a BLAST reconnecting with these guys. We had a lot of fun back in the Tech Team days, which is one cornerstone of that experience’s AWESOMEness.

I have gotten a crap-ton of fun stuff so far, a lot of which I hope makes it into the final preso. But to give you a tease, here is the first logo one of our Tech Team brethren, Shane Gilmore, cooked up back when we first went joint.


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There’s been a slow, creeping movement in DC these past few years to renovate the way we think about government. The Gov 2.0 Summit and Expo, put on by O’Reilly Media and TechWeb, drew a monstrous crowd of people last year to explore challenges, requirements, and strategies for adapting the phenomena we associate with the social media movement to the government of the future.

I just submitted a Must.Be.AWESOME!!! pitch for the Gov 2.0 Expo in May 2010. My topic is called Instituting a Culture of AWESOME in Government. The approach I intend to take on this preso involves analyzing a case study of how  AWESOME can exist and flourish in government today. I chose to use a very specific case study, one near and dear to my own heart: my experience with the IED Task Force Tech Team from January 2003 to April 2006.

Du4 pretending to be King Shit at the old Tech Team trailer

Du4 pretending to be King Shit at the old Tech Team trailer

My intent behind examining the Tech Team stems from the entire team’s own reminiscences about our time there. Not a single one of these exceptional people would tell you that working on this team was anything less than AWESOME. The team’s mission was to seek out, evaluate, and rapidly equip lifesaving counter-IED technology to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were long hours and a lot of opposition to our methods (our approach basically bucked and made irrelevant the entire Army acquisition system), but our cause was just and we celebrated it joyfully every day.

I’m really looking forward to digging into this study. It gives me a chance to catch up with a lot of my original teammates, all of whom left an indelible mark on me due to their profound professionalism and loyalty. I loved working with these guys, and I’d lay down in traffic for ’em any day. That’s the kind of culture we need to instill in government today.

With some luck, my submission will get picked up by the Gov 2.0 folks, and I can get to work putting together a badass preso. I’ll blog about how it’s going as new developments occur; maybe something I’m looking into will help YOU in instituting a culture of AWESOME in your own organizations.