Internship Report: CHAI, South Africa (Week 8)

We live in a day and age where the internet, cell phones and social media allow us to communicate with family, friends and colleagues with ease.   In fact, programs like Skype allow two people to have a face-to-face conversation while sitting a globe apart.  Global communication has never been easier.

CHAI operates globally.  The company’s headquarters is in Boston with a major office housing global team members in New York City. The majority of staff is based ‘in country’ in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.  We have regular conference calls with representatives of 10 countries or more and often share information and experiences with each other to determine best practices. Despite such contact, I can’t help but feel the global team and country teams have communication issues.

The work experience of the two groups is completely different.  A country team will have local context on health issues while the global team has an aggregated view of the same issue.  This difference in vantage point can lead to a divergence of opinions on the best solution for one ‘in country’ problem and vice versa.  While both solutions may have validity, they are often presented as an absolute rather than a suggestion.

Thus far, this has not caused the type of discord that can lead to organizational chaos and the work produced is still of the highest caliber.

As I think about my future working for a global business, communication will be a key component in my management efforts.   The need for fluid communication across an organization is paramount.  Now, the small task of determining the best way to promote the right level and tone of communication begins.

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

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