How do you create a playbook for performing basic administrative functions at U.S. embassies around the world? How do you establish common procedures when every host country has its own rules? Kerry O’Connor, the State Department’s innovation catalyst, answers these questions on this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev.”

O’Connor, who also runs the department’s internal Sounding Board focusing on the “how” of foreign policy, talks about the challenges of running an embassy, improving deeply rooted but inefficient policies, and changing a culture traditionally resistant to change. She discusses innovation jams and other ways to find more efficient processes.

Having joined the Foreign Service on September 10, 2001, O’Connor served in Ghana and Morocco before converting to the Civil Service. She provides a behind-the-scenes look at embassy life, including issues like diplomatic immunities and mental health.

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One Response to Behind the scenes of running an embassy

  1. Charles Ray says:

    With all due respect to Ms. O’Connor, having only served two tours abroad as a junior officer, she’s hardly an expert on running an embassy. That said, she is at least right that the Foreign Service culture that is resistant to change needs to be altered.

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