Sounding Board

On February 4, 2009, the new Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, addressed State Department employees at a globally broadcast town hall meeting, explaining:

So I like to think that this town hall will launch the latest of my listening tours. I want and need to hear from you, and that is not an idle invitation but an urgent request. We want to continue the dialogue we’re beginning today, and in fact, we’re creating a space on the Intranet website for you to generate your own ideas and engage in conversations with the whole Department.

That evening, I received an urgent request to join a team of scrappy innovators and technologists in order to design, build, and launch an ideation site in under 48 hours. Talk about a minimally viable product! I got something working in place by hacking Movable Type nearly inside out, and less than a year later we migrated the content to BrightIdea’s software platform.

Three years later, Secretary Clinton again addressed employees, at which point she recognized the efforts of my colleague, Kerry O’Connor, and myself.

Since 2014, I ran the entire Sounding Board program, which continued to be the most robust site on the Department’s intranet. This entailed community management, moderation, contract management, reports to the Department’s senior leaders, and occasionally, collaboration with our legal department. Due to budget cuts, Department officials decided to close this program in August 2017.

Molly, Kerry, Tiffany, and Corey on bikes

A photograph from a 2009 State Magazine article about the Sounding Board. Several employee ideas submitted to the site called for employee biking resources as a way to be greener and healthier.