Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reinvention of self -- again

Three years ago I did a collateral reinvention when I started teaching an online course in Crisis Communications at the University of Maryland University College.

This has turned out to be a very satisfying reboot. I’d always harbored a desire to teach, and UMUC is a great place to realize this goal. While I would still like to try the classroom in-person mode, teaching online has quite a few advantages that in-person classes do not have. Asynchronous teaching and learning can be very convenient for both the teacher and the student.

This fall I’m branching out yet again, adding a new subject to teach in addition to Crisis Communications. The new subject is Intercultural Communications and Leadership. The material looks very interesting and challenging, and I’m looking forward to engaging with a new set of students in a different academic discipline.

Nancy J. Adler, author of International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, one of the textbooks we’ll be using, frames the teaching task this way in her first chapter:

“Focusing on global strategies and management approaches from the perspective of people and culture allows us to understand the influence of national and ethnic cultures on organizational functioning. Rather than becoming trapped within the commonly asked (and unfortunately misleading) question of whether organizational dynamics are universal or culturally specific, this book focuses on the crucially important questions of when and how to be sensitive to culture.”

The company I spent most of my corporate career working for – Pacific Gas & Electric – had only minimal international operations, but my consulting career has carried me into several large organizations that operate around the world. I get a firsthand look at the interplay of communications and culture almost every day. The world is now the business arena. As Adler puts it:

Managing the global enterprise and modern business management have become come synonymous. The terms international, multinational, transnational, and global can no longer be relegated to a subset of organizations or to a division within the organization. Definitions of success now transcend national boundaries. In fact, the very concept of domestic business may have become anachronistic. Today “the modern business enterprise has no place to hide. It has no place to go but everywhere.”

I feel certain that the teacher in this course is going to learn as much as the students. Considering who the teacher is, probably a lot more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Lee,

I thought you might be interested in a "Reboot- style" article on a few people over 50 that haven't let any grass grow under their feet.

The article is called "Life Begins After 50," and tells several inspirational stories of people making things happen well after 50 years of age.