In their own words



MSF has a culture of civil (and not so civil) disagreement among it’s volunteers, executives, sections, field offices, and so on. To me, this shows that it is a vibrant community of passionate people. The only times in my career when I’ve really gotten angry about something was when I cared enough to fight for it.

Because the actors in the mini-dramas of MSF are widely dispersed, they seem to have developed a habit of using written communication to fight their battles. I suppose written communication is the most amenable to translation, too. It’s great for observers like me, because it means that if you can get your hands on the what the organization is saying among itself, you can see how it works, even as an outsider. Try that with Microsoft!

(In fact, I did. I found that Microsoft is an organization where what you learn about them by what they say to outsiders is very different than what you learn about them by working for them. That sounds Machiavellian, but in fact it is the other way around: Microsoft is a much less organized and terrible beast inside than outside.)

The latest treasure trove of stuff I’ve found is in the MSF-France library. I had missed it until now because I’d never bothered to go to MSF-France’s website, assuming it was all in French. In fact, their website is all in French, but I speak enough to navigate it. And once you get to the library, there are English versions of lots of things, including an internal magazine called Messages.


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