I recently was in Washington, DC and had the good fortune to stay on Embassy Row. I love that part of the city where streets are lined with mini-museums and cultural artifacts representing the countries whose embassies are stationed there.
There are 176 nations that have embassies in Washington, and I am always surprised at the scale and depth of their buildings. The Tiny Republic of Cote d’Ivoire (an Ivory Coast country I will admit I never heard of before) has three attached buildings taking up almost half a block. Likewise for Greece, the occupant of prime real estate as their country fends off loan defaults. It is a mini-United Nations as each country finds ways to express its culture and personality amidst the DC row houses.
I began to think of the concept of embassy, defined as “a permanent diplomatic mission.”* Why does it only have to be countries that establish such relationships?
Could you have an embassy to another office in your organization with whom you need to cooperate — and negotiate — and be friendly even when you disagree? Would it change the perspective if one of your employees (or you) were named the “ambassador” to another organization? How would you approach your relationship with others if you saw yourself fostering a permanent diplomatic mission instead of just a one-time transaction?
The United States has embassies in 307 locations. Where should you assign your ambassadors?
*Source for definition and numbers: Wikipedia, 2015
Originally published in modified form on June 26, 2015