Bureaucratic mindset vs. Web 2.0 mindset


This article was first published on the Online EU Training blog


Bureaucratic mindset vs. Web 2.0 mindsetThe way most European institutions communicate and the mindset of the interactive web 2.0 communications is in utter contradiction. There is a compelling story to tell, but most EU institutions should learn how to say it.

True, the European Parliament is still much better than other EU bodies such as the Council of Ministers in understanding how online communications work: they have set up their own TV channel, regularly host live chat events, and try to speak the citizens’ language, even if there is still a lot of room for improvement. EPSO, the recruitment office, has also been a rare exception within the Commission in using Twitter and Facebook to connect better with future job candidates.


The European Court of Justice, the Council of Ministers and other bodies, however, seem quite far from living up to the requirements of the online age and the new generation of citizen expectations. Make no mistake: this is equally true for most large corporations, not just the public sector. But does it have to be this way?


Here is a quick comparison of the two mindsets as we see it – let us know your comments!



Those having a “bureaucratic mindset”…

(e.g. European Court of Auditors, some Commission DGs, Council of Ministers)


Those having a “web 2.0 mindset”…

(e.g. more-or-less the Commission’s EPSO, Eurocontrol, European Food Safety Authority)

Write in an impersonal, non-identifiable way,does not like or dare to have a face

(“The Court considers that…”, “The European Commission has launched…”)

Write as humans, identifiable with a face as a real person

(“I believe that…”, “It’s great to see when…”)

Take no direct responsibility for their position

(“This is the position of the European Court of Auditors. Those wishing to challenge this view may turn to…”)

Take full responsibility for their words and position

(“This is what I stand for, and feel free to share your thoughts and challenge my words…”)

Make sure the hierarchy and the legal department have approved all words

Dare to take action, act individually, and while they do think before posting, value honesty above all

Use a formal, dry and 3rd person tone

(“We wish to inform you that the observation you have submitted is in conformity with the decision of 8 December 2010…”)

Use an informal, easy-to-understand 1stperson tone

(“I agree with you”)

Prefer to use legal bases and formal agreements and being abstract

(“Please refer to Article 45b of Regulation XXX/2005/EC on animal welfare”)

Use concrete, real life examples and tries to avoid using legal blabla

(“The EU protects pets such as dogs or hamsters…”)

Prefer to use letters, text-only e-mails andPDFs to correspond

Use embedded videos, video-answers, info-graphics, interactive forums, webcasting and live chats to communicate

Get angry when their view, position or authority is challenged or questioned 

Like being challenged, understand that critical feedback gives new ideas innovative solutions

Respond to questions according to deadlinesregulated in administrative codes, not earlier

Always answer within 24 hours because 12 hours already seem like eternity online

Do not measure its quantitative and qualitative impact online: approval, visibility, reviews

Constantly monitor the internet and social media conversations, react, clarify, uses analytics

Consider that being online is a burden

Consider that being online is a huge opportunityto get stakeholder buy-in and spread a message

Think of online platforms as a colourful media where print brochures can be uploaded

Understand the power of interactivity, connectivity, sharing and online multimedia

Believe that top-down messages are the way to go 

Horizontal conversations are the way to go

Want to control the message at all price

Have no intention to control the message, and enjoys having a multitude of opinions

Target senior decision-makers, politicians and journalists; suspicious of bloggers and peers

Consider everyone with a computer and internet connection as a stakeholder and a multiplier 

Require all staff to follow the line to take and never challenge the views from the top

Encourage internal virtual forums while keeping a unified voice towards outside

Do not feel any pressure to innovate and communicate

Understand that becoming irrelevant is the worst that can happen to you

(Image credit: www.visualphotos.com)


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