It can be nice to find out you were ahead of the times. Of course, many of the people who were ahead of their own times were only recognized posthumously. However, if finding out you were ahead of your time means that now that everyone’s caught up, more people have a voice even if they didn’t find it through me, so be it.

With the transition of the new President-elect comes many changes, but one of the best changes in approaches I have seen is how the Transition team is modeling good communication. There is always a time and place for top down communication — if you are the President, the people look for that kind of leadership from time to time. But one of the basic tenets of good communication is good listening. And President-elect Obama’s team have the right idea. They even have a great name for the tool they are using to listen to constituents — “Open for Questions“. Imagine if the Bush Administration had offered such a tool?

Of course, it’s one thing to put up a tool for people to provide feedback, it’s another to act on those ideas and questions in a meaningful way. Chatter Mill (the feedback engine I developed) is just one of the many suggestion-box style of tools that are popping up as social media becomes the norm. Uservoice and Google Moderator are others. I have been working with employee audiences using these types of feedback tools since 2002 and it’s great to see the importance of giving feedback gaining traction.