Thanks for getting this network started - now for difficult part in making it sustainable

I would like to thank Douglas and Christian for getting this initiative started and this is a great platform to establish this community of practice for ICT in local government, something that has been lacking for too long. Whereas GovTech has served the needs of the national and provincial governments, local government was never fully integrated into that community - the needs of local government are too specialised and require their own forum.

The largest single problem at this time is sustaining the initiative, and I have started many such communities which failed through lack of continuity, in spite of being great ideas and with promise of involvement. I see that starting such a community is much like getting a mexican wave started at a soccer match. There are many attempts to get everyone involved until at some tipping point everyone is involved. This tipping point will be based upon the level of involvement of members rather than anything else.

My suggestion is that everyone who joins this immediately becomes an active member, and does not simply sit back and observe what is going on. Finally we have a forum in which we can talk, and can challenge others in dialogue in an open manner, and in real time rather than in the context of those rare conferences we all attend.

There are many vendors and providers of services to this sector, including ourselves, who have difficulty getting noticed, and who offer specialised offerings that may be of interest to municipalities. Here is a way in which these can be positioned so that municipalities can find the rull range of potential solutions available, although I fully subscribe to the position that a community such as this should be largely based upon the sharing information than on sales and marketing of individual organisations, and it will be important to establish clear guidelines on promotion and sponsorship to avoid overt selling within this community. For those in the public sector it is important to have a single point of reference to potential solutions, and for us in the private sector it is important to have people who can share their knowledge and experience in one municipality with others that may benefit. There is the potential for an all-win situation based upon information sharing.

"If you build it, they will come" was the single phrase that captures the essence of the movie "Field of Dreams" and many have considering this be a general rule - if we build a web site then everyone will come. Historical reality shows that this is not the case and for something to be successful then we need to bring people in to participate. It has been built and now we need to help others to come, and for this a simple case of viral communication will be useful. Tell others and tell them to tell others etc.. until this critical mass is created and this becomes the digital home that we all visit every day for our daily dose of news our our sector and for responding to issues that we feel strongly about in healthy debates.

I have already informed my colleagues of this initiative and invited them to join.

Please do the same with yours.



Roger Layton

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Nino's picture
Nino replied on

I fully agree with this and I also want to add to people sitting back and not being active. I've registered a few minutes ago and have already commented on almost everything in here - hehehe!

Anyway, what I would like to add in terms of people sitting back... Guys, to ensure the sustainability of this initiative, we need to keep information relevant. It's no use ranting and raving about the procurement processes and how they make our lives difficult... Rather suggest ways of getting the process to work...

If you have info and it worked in your environment, then share it! From my point of view, I will probably drop this initiative if I dont find meaningful, helpful and relevant information.

It's like trying to find a solution in MySQL, but after days of reading online forums you still dont have a clue.

The spirit of "ubuntu" can exist within ICT as well :)



Roger Layton's picture
Roger Layton replied on

Hi Nino,

Certainly somce principles of Ubuntu are useful, including the element of the community as an entity in its own right, and the principles of shared knowledge, values and information. But I have wondered about the collective decision-making of ubuntu - almost decision by consensus rather than decision by those who are the leaders. The reason that some people lead is to take decisions and to be accountable for these and not to delegate to a committee or community.

This is particularly significant for local government as a whole rather than just ICT, since in a participatory democracy, as is entrenched in the Constitution, everyone theoretically has a right to be heard in terms of their points of view and issues. In reality, municipalities only deal with formal community structures rather than individuals, and thus one must join established communities in order to get the voice heard.

What is needed here is the ability to use ICTs to open up channels of communication between the government and the people, something we are active in ourselves, and perhaps using this was can create a new ubuntu for the digital age, and to help remove the us-and-them distinction between government and the people they serve.

I have gave a talk a couple of years ago on Ubuntu for Project Managers at SITA, at the launch of the Project Management in Government Special Interest Group, and my personal views are that project managers are required to be dictatorical in many cases rather than attempting to satisfy the collective, simply to meet time, cost and quality constraints on projects, and in the process some people will feel aggrieved, but in such cases it is often the project itself which needs to be protected, rather than the individuals. One can never satsify all of the people all of the time!


Nino's picture
Nino replied on

Hi Roger,

You are right on your, but I only referenced "ubuntu" to indicate that this project will only work if people (ICT's) share and be actively involved.

There's nothing more frustrating then trying to gather information from a website/portal, and people don't share their knowledge...

What I have found though is that people who are afraid to share what they have learnt over the years, are normally those who are insecure in their positions, whether conciously or subconsciously.

So I hope that this won't turn into another LOGICT... or even the numerous SITA initiatives.

Why reinvent the wheel?


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