April 14, 2011

This blog actually started in December 2007 when the first post was published all about NI14 (has everybody forgotten about ‘avoidable contact’ now?), my first questionnaire was actually (and importantly) posted on the 14th April 2008. The date was chosen since it was the anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, perhaps not something to rejoice over but it was a memorable date and  he was known as the Great Emancipator! Get it? He issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 which freed the slaves in those States not in Union control – I recently had to explain to non-English speakers what emancipation is , it’s not a common term these days, but emancipation is all about freeing the object from whatever form of bondage it is subject to. 

The term Great Emancipator was abused not long after that when it was used to promote the newly developed sewing machine as the liberator of womankind! No one obviously thought about the sweatshops that were to follow.

Listening one day to Gillian Welch and her song April the 14th Part 1, it occurred to me that e-government was envisaged as a similar emancipator to the sewing machine but not as the Great Emancipator, hence I called the blog The Great E-mancipator.

It’s three years on since that first questionnaire. I submitted my PhD dissertation in July 2010. I successfully defended the thesis at viva in September 2010. However a few changes were requested, which delayed the signing off, however these were recently accepted…so happy anniversary to my research, the PhD may be finished but the blog will continue.

Making contact with NI 14

February 24, 2009

The electronic version of the Municipal Journal we will be streaming a live debate on NI14 this Thursday (26th February 2009) at 12:00 noon. If you tune in you can ask questions to the panel via an interactive service. You may have to register (free) on the site if you haven’t already.

Further to that,  Ruination Day, as it was named by Gillian Welch, approaches!  The 14th day of April will soon be here, the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Titanic striking the iceberg and probably many other things (well, there’s a one in 365 and a bit chances).

The 14th day of April is the date I chose in 2008 to launch my questionnaire around e-government metrics, along with first publicising the blog I named the Great E-mancipator, another Abe Lincoln link. The blog has had a steaday stream of visitors since, the questionnaire received sufficient responses to make it worthwhile, so many thanks to those who have contributed to this piece of action research.

This year I’m repeating part of the survey to discover any developments in the past twelve months, along with a slight extension to pick up any vibes around recording satisfaction, dissatisfaction or engagement. Although, as the literature advises I’m keeping the number of questions within reason i.e. less than fifteen “real” questions, but ethical research requires I add five more!

The recording of “avoidable contact”, if properly done, could have benefits, in that users might reconsider their systems from the point of view of the citizen interaction, but what if the citizen is largely avoiding contact due to poor channel implementation? How will we ever find out? My view of measurement has come about by looking at the options reviewed in the literature, and in the private sector, and seeing engagement proposed. We can measure the amount of contact over the channels and see which ones are being used and, possibly importantly, when. We can encourage feedback across all the channels from both citizens and staff, to highlight issues with the employment of those channels for service delivery and how the service is delivered. We can used this combined information to improve service delivery, along with channel usage. It goes a little further than systems thinking and “Gemba“, it reaches out to the citizens, and, rather than employing sophisticated forumulae as proposed by Parasuraman and particularly those who have followed him most recently, it keeps it simple and monitors developments over time.

Are there any suggestions out there? What questions would you ask about NI14? What measures can you imagine being used to improve service delivery across the range of current and future channels?