Last week I facilitated a roundtable on the topic of global-local linkages: how global trends are affecting our local work, and how we are learning to incorporate global perspectives better into our work.  Some of the global trends identified by participants included:

  • Although every generation is multifaceted, some of the traits millennials are bringing to the workplace were identified as being comfortable with the world and with technology, crossing (different types of) boundaries easily, and looking for impact from their work more than previous generations.
  • An increased ease and access of global-local information flow – this is leading us to increasingly view the world more broadly – “globally” rather than internationally (focusing on the whole world rather than just on a few countries or regions).  This more global focus can also pose technical challenges (for example needing to understand a wider variety of visa policies, or bandwith capacities), as well as opportunities.
  • Climate impacts and variable resilience – even within countries, adaptability and resilience to climate change impacts are quite variable. There may be more communalities with communities in similar situations in other parts of the world, than with communities within a country.  This can provide an opportunity for shared learning globally that can help us locally.
  • The blurring of sector lines and growth of entrepreneurship – nonprofits are being asked to look at challenges ‘more entrepreneurially’ while at the same time concerns about risk and failure (on the part of donors and boards) can provide a barrier to more entrepreneurial or innovative approaches.

These are some of the ways in which participating organizations are trying to incorporate more global perspectives into their local work:

  • Roundtables focusing on global themes and modeling how learning can come from many different places – everyone has something to share if our mindsets, cultures and formats allow for inclusive and open sharing. It is important to work at making this a practice in the organization to break more traditional patterns of the ‘expert’ or ‘visitor’ making the presentation rather than a real exchange of ideas.
  • More focus on the concept of engagement rather than ‘marketing’ to potential community members. Engagement allows us to better understand others to mutual benefit.
  • More use of online platforms to ease global interactions. Examples given were Big Marker, Zoom and
  • Demonstrating to the organization’s leadership, through more explicit discussions, the commonalities local themes can have to global ones and how this can enhance the organization’s learning and program resources. Identifying these global themes can be beneficial to this process.
  • Being intentional about any travel done by employees or constituents – what cultural insights can be shared more broadly in the organization?
  • Being aware of the importance of reaching out and building bridges. This can take time and may entail risks but can have positive results.