Friday, February 4, 2011

Come again?

As my teammate Francesco comments on our Team Blog, the most common reaction that most of us get is not "How cool!" or "Stay safe!" It's typically "Say what?" That includes from members of my own family. Which begs the question, why on God's green Earth are all of us shlepping all over God's green Earth? So here's the best succinct summary I can offer.

It's good for Kenya.
 From the Kenyan e-Government Directorate's perspective, I think this is the equivalent of finding a $20 in the laundry. It's not going to change your life, but it allows you to do one small thing that you wouldn't have otherwise done. I expect from our initial interactions that we will find the staff there skilled but overwhelmed. And if our small group of highly motivated, highly skilled professionals with a fresh set of eyes working intensely for a short period of time at no cost to the government can produce a work product that helps move their agenda forward, that's a good thing. It's worked on dozens of Corporate Service Corps projects up until now, and our crew of talent makes them look like shlubs.

It's good for IBM.
 There is no question that IBM gets a PR boost for these activities, and companies and governments want to do business with companies that have a robust corporate citizenship agenda. And Kenya is an expanding market for IBM. But given how much press we see on corporate malfeasance is it so terrible for a company to receive good press for doing good works? Cynically, if IBM really just wanted the PR boost, they could have run this program for one year and then killed it. Instead, they're expanding it each year. IBM also gets the benefit of globally seasoned leaders that it needs given the 100+ countries in which it operates.

It's good for Me.
 This is radically unlike any professional experience I've ever had in my life. In a global economy, my history reads extremely local. The career development I can receive in one month of working with an international team for an international client is more than I could hope for from twenty classroom trainings. It might also be fun. Maybe.


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