Jane`s Most Provacative Propositions:

Jane Watkins
Editor’s Note: Among the presenters at the November 1998 meeting of GEM Certificate
participants was Jane Watkins, who shared a few of her boldest propositions regarding a new
paradigm for global organizations.
Global organizations are undergoing unprecedented transformation as they seek ways to become
ever more effective and relevant in today’s world. In my own vision of the new global
organization, I see seven defining characteristics:
Multi-locational. The global organization is at least multi, and sometimes “non” locational. In
place of headquarters are coordinating units, which may move about as required.
Shared Leadership. Because leadership is a function and not a position, in the global
organization people assume leadership when it is needed and appropriate to their skills and
interest. Areas of expertise are clearly identified, and opportunities to expand roles and expertise
are provided when possible. Traditional roles such as “director” are selected in a collaborative
environment and are often rotational.
High-tech/High-touch Communication. Global organizations depend heavily upon electronic
technologies for communication, working via e-mail, fax, telephone conferencing and, when
possible, teleconferencing. Much of the budget supports travel, meetings, and electronic
communications to ensure collaboration and partnership at every level.
Partnerships and Alliances. Global organizations take part in multiple cooperative
arrangements, not only for programming and program delivery but also for mutual learning,
shared physical space and facilities, and representational activities (i.e., one person attending a
conference for several organizations and reporting back).
Learning Organizations. Global organizations are continuous and deliberate learners, embracing
today’s accelerated rate of change and setting up flexible systems and plans to accommodate
such change. Such organizations engage in constant reflection and develop grounded theory
about their field(s) and work processes. In addition they devote adequate time to sharing what
they are learning, and factor new knowledge and theory into their ongoing projects and
Task Competent/Process Focused. Global organizations encompass people highly skilled not
only in their areas of expertise, but also in the human processes of organizing. A high priority is
given to communication skills and the ability to work together for win-win solutions.
Values and Vision Centered. Global organizations are held together by the power and clarity of
their shared values and vision, these agreed upon by staff and stakeholders at every level.