Posted: 2:23 pm EDT
Updated: 8:41 pm EDT
Updated: 12:43 pm EDT
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On July 7, I did a blogpost about CorridorRep.com, a website owned by Transparency In Government Performance, LLC. (See “Corridor Reputation” Gets a Makeover, And OMG …. It’s Now Online!)
CorridorRep.com’s site administrator is Foreign Service Officer Mark D. Perry. (Note: he is not the Mark Perry on LinkedIn). We requested a short bio and here is what he sent us:
Mark D. Perry is a consular-coned Foreign Service Officer who has served overseas in Monterrey, Cairo, and Lima. He is currently working in a domestic assignment at the Buffalo Passport Agency. He enjoys chocolate and looking for ways to make life better through the use of technology. Prior to joining the service, he worked in corporate HR for Tyco International, Ltd.
We cannot give you firsthand assessment of the site but readers writing this blog seems split between “this is great, yay!” or this is a terrible idea.
Mr. Perry told us via email that he has been thinking about this idea for years and floated it to a number of trusted friends. “Some said wow this is great and others said you are crazy,” he writes.
Another feedback we got is along the line of — hey, it only took a minute to figure out who runs this site; if he’s not good at protecting himself … what about my information?
We asked Mr. Perry about that and he explained that he created the LLC not to hide his identity, but to provide some additional legal protection. That is true enough as LLC owners are protected from personal liability for business debts and claims.
We also asked about some readers’ concerns on data security, and here is his response:
I can understand the concerns about data security but I think the potential benefits outweigh these risks. Anything posted here could also be overheard in a cafe or sent by personal email to a friend or already on someone’s Facebook page. All of these are also easy targets for collection. This is nothing new. The site might make it marginally easier but I really do not see much risk in that aspect.
One reader asked about an “opt-out” so we also put that question to Mr. Perry.
[T]here really is not [a] way to prevent someone from rating you. Preventing someone from being rated would be technically close to impossible. Anyone can delete or edit the ratings they have entered for others but could not delete ratings from others about themselves. Anyone can choose not to visit the site so I guess that is one way one could opt out.
The site itself says that “you now have access to honest 360 reviews.” One of the screencaps on the site is a section that says “Will work again with You” with the following options: 1) Supervisor, 2) Subordinate, 3) Colleague, 4) Other and 5) All.
We should note that the State Department has been using the 360 degree feedback for years primarily as a placement tool during the assignments process, and as far as we know, not as a developmental tool. See update below.
So think Yelp, Trip Advisor, Amazon and other online rating sites out there, except that the employee is now the rated brand/product. Or perhaps the closest ones would be the student rating sites for teachers/professors performance. Online reviews are popular and have grown prevalent in recent years. There are even online reviews written by ex-convicts! These online reviews have also grown controversial, of course, with some allegations of manipulation (and some real) orchestrated by companies to trick potential customers. The Harvard Business review last year, however notes that “voracious information-seeking has become deeply ingrained in many consumers, and we can envision no scenario in which they will see traditional marketing as a better provider of product information.”
In some ways, corridorrep.com is probably more like glassdoor.com, a career community that depends on everyone being able to share an inside look at a company they know. Corridorrep.com depends on everyone being able to share an inside look about each other; it’s success certainly depends on the participation of enough individuals rating each other. Its stated goal is to have 5,000 reviews. Since we posted about the site, the online reviews have gone from 26 to 83, averaging about six reviews a day in the last 9 days. That’s not a significant number at this time but if the number of posts continue at this rate, we estimate that the site will reach its goal in slightly over a couple of years. The question now is how many of the Foreign Service’s 13,908 employees are willing to participate? Will Civil Service employees and Foreign Service Nationals, who all have state.gov emails also participate?
We understand that the site has become fairly controversial within the FS community. We are sure there are many more questions out there for corridorrep.com. We have offered to host a Q&A at our forum and Mr. Perry has accepted the invitation. He will answer your questions on Saturday, July 18, 7pm EST. This forum is set as “open” so non-registered members of the forum and readers of the blog will be able to post questions of interest. You may post your questions ahead of time here: http://forums.diplopundit.net/?forum=457155.
See you at the forum!
Update: We received the following nugget from an FSO with clarification on current use of 360 at State; our correspondent is not sure if there is a similar process for the Civil Service:
“State’s mandatory leadership and management training that everyone in the Foreign Service has to take each time they are promoted to the next level (at least for promotions to 02, 01 and into the SFS, not sure about below that) has a 360 component. You have to submit 10-15 names to review you anonymously, inlcuding subordinates, peers and bosses (the bosses are not anonymous). The results and comments are shared with you and the FSI instructors and I’ve found it quite useful. You also do one for yourself and seeing the similarities or differences between your self-image of your strengths and weaknesses and how others view you is very instructive.”
A Consular Officer also sent us the following details on the use of 360s at State/CA:
The Bureau of Consular Affairs also uses 360s as a development tool. Its CBAT program collects 360s for bidders and shares the report of the assessors’ input with the bidder. There are fewer questions than on the leadership training 360s mentioned above, but the CBAT does ask “would you work with this employee again?” and offers free text fields for assessors to say whatever they want. In general, the new (2 years old) CBAT process has been received pretty well, although I think some officers have been surprised by frank feedback. And on the leadership training you mentioned, that is also open to Civil Service employees. I think it is mandatory at GS-13/14/15.
- Sexing up the 360-Degree Feedback, Revisited
- Earth Embassy Ganymede Administrative Notice #04-010103: Morale, WD-40, Duct Tape
I think this is fantastic, I just wish the Department had the guts (and our union had the foresight) to have such a system in-house. I’ve been arguing for quantificaiton in diplomacy and development for some time. Check out my presentation from Tech@State Moneyball Diplomacy: http://mattchessen.com/videos/
Thanks for the link Matt. Whatever happened to eDiplomacy’s Corridor?
An LLC won’t protect Mr. Perry from the collateral damage to his own career that will inevitably follow, as those who have committed far less serious “crimes” over the years can attest.
Seen enough collateral damage happen to FS bloggers. Quite painful to watch. We’ll see what happens next.
There is an obvous generation gap gapping here. Apparently the contemporary generation of FS people do not accept the ancient practice of discretion for public officials. The concept that a public official is no longer a private citizen, but someone for whom restrictions and inhibitions apply. The public offical was once characterized as grey in public demeanor and behavior. And for good reasons, reasons apparently no longer considered valid. Behavior was once guided by the rule that you could do anything you wished as long as you did not disturb the horses in the street.
Well, there are no longer horses in the street, but many on the internet. Please do no complain when they become disturbed, as they will be.
21st century statecraft came knocking. This is the age of disruptors. The horses will be disturbed. And the disruptors will occasionally be thrown, sometimes twice for good measure, under great big buses.