Friday, October 08, 2010

Lessons Learnt From Holding Meetings With Government

Had a productive meeting with the E-Task Team of one of  SA's provincial governments. Representatives at the meeting included deputy directors of communications of a number of government departments including social development, public works and the premier's office.

Lessons learnt from the meeting: 

1. Government wheels turn very slowly, so you need to be able to nail down things that can be done immediately to see results ( and alleviate personal frustrations due to challenges they face in their work) while they also endlessly discuss their long-term vision.
2. Make sure participants don't leave the room without a concrete plan of action, with definite deadlines set.
3. Take notes, preferably as a Powerpoint presentation outlining your discussion and plan of action, so you can email all participants copies at the end of the meeting. That way, THEY don't have to go write reports for their own bossses: they can just polish your report and forward it (less work for them; makes them look good).
4. Take nothing for granted. One report mentioned that the provincial government has a Facebook group, and I asked the different comms heads how effective they were in using it. Turns out their IT department has blocked Facebook, so they're not using the group at all (beyond the fact that it was set up by someone) and their the comms people haven't quite figured out how to get IT to grant them access. And yes, many people choose to have in-person meetings, rather than just sending an email outlining an issue and cc'ing everyone involved. "There's no guarantee the people you send emails to will read them," I was told.

All in all, participants were convinced it was a productive meeting, which always gives me a good feeling. But I just want to see a content development contract on the table. That's when I'll be convinced that the meeting was a success:-)


tiah said...

I don't think I have the right attitude to survive your job.

Damaria Senne said...

Because you'd get impatient with them?

Tamara said...

Good points, Damaria. But I still dislike working with government. Too much bureaucracy and usually astoundingly late payments - that's been my experience.

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