User centricity and citizen centricity are defined as a vantage point that preaches for a proactive paradigm change on the part of providers, leaders and governing bodies. It is about the providers’ and governments’ obligations towards their users and citizens.
At the same time it is about us as well and what we are actively willing to do. It obliges us to adapt, in our daily life, to the same zeitgeist that we preach our providers and institutions to incorporate. If all we do is exercise a consumers’ boycott and protests as reactive sporadic singular emotional responses, or settle to get civically active by just voting on election day, because we lost faith anyway, then “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). But if truly we want fundamental new orders, then he ball is in our hands and we should commit as well.
A paradigm change on the part of organizations and governing bodies is about expectations from them to open up the top down unilateral monopoly over their activities, information and decision making processes for user and citizen involvement and participation. It is a call for transparency and collaboration, managerial integrity as much as representatives’ integrity that exceeds political and power based interests.
Is it against basic human nature? No, it’s about realignment of values and priorities to suit the underlying concepts of the fundamental pact between them and their clients. On the providers’ part it is a call to truly put the user at the center, enable her control over data, activate bi lateral communication, privacy and sharing settings, and gain trust by a call to exercise humanization and sensitivity – more social and environmental involvement.
Citizen centricity calls for flattening hierarchies, but not in the way Thomas Friedman meant but through genuine connectedness in delivering government information and services to the citizens. Opening government data, empowering citizens transparently to become part of the decision making process, will affect the information hierarchy, changing from a hierarchical structure to a network structure, one that digital natives are already used to work in – a basic building block on the way to raise the declining curve of trust. according to the latest Edelman trust barometer.
Yet, user and citizen centricity oblige us as well to take an active part in creating the mindset and actions that will enhance this shift. The wisdom of crowds and bottom up grassroots actions are the most powerful force to change paradigms and force new measuring scales.
It demands from us to embrace the same value sets we want providers and governors to apply – when we demand that brands stand for values, morals and meaning to consumers, we need to ask ourselves the same questions. Is our consumerism excessive, over material? How credible do we sound when so many of us walk into stores and still look for the new thrill, be it in snacks, yogurts, fashion items and up to cars, gadgets and the list is endless.
The web allows us to shop “responsibly” – compare prices and truly take advantage of the flat world as defined by Thomas Friedman. Yet, here too, as responsible consumers, we are obliged to exercise checks and balances that affect us as individuals and the environment and country we live in; understand economic ramifications and make individual compromises where and whenever we can, and shift from materialistic consumerism to a more value based lifestyle, otherwise we will all go to hell in a shopping basket.
And as citizens – citizen centricity should spell participatory awareness and activism, namely, not only do we have the right, but the obligation, to actively have a say on what we want our life to look like. To quote Barack Obama “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek……. We know that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored , that will not be deterred, that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation” – it is true for citizens who want to exercise their influence for more aware, humane governance for the people, anywhere.