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Moving Indonesia toward technology-based business

When an agency of the Indonesian government wanted to develop a more business-like approach to providing technology services to the private sector, it found a "twin" in the United States to help with the transition.

According to a World Bank report, for years Indonesia relied on its natural resources—oil, natural gas and forestry. In the 1980s, however, Indonesia began focusing on developing its technology capabilities as the most promising source of sustainable growth for the future.

As part of this effort, Battelle entered into a contract with Indonesia's Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology in 1997 to work on a multi-year project funded by World Bank. Battelle manages Pacific Northwest for the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition to a small core project team of Battelle and Laboratory staff, many others from Pacific Northwest brought specific expertise to the project.

The project compared and contrasted Battelle's practices and processes with those of the Indonesian agency. "The project staff adapted Battelle's business processes and approaches to business development, public relations, contract management and intellectual property to fit the agency's and Indonesia's needs," said Mary Zalesny, project manager for the Twinning Arrangement of the Management and Business Integration System Project. "We updated hardware and created automated information systems to effectively manage human resources, budgets and projects."

One of the project's main objectives was to guide and support the Indonesian agency through organizational changes as it began the transition toward a private- sector-oriented technology service organization. This piece involved developing a project management plan, a communications plan and plans for leadership development. The assistance with transition also helped the agency through major organizational restructuring and three changes in its senior leadership.

If international collaboration on such a major transition wasn't challenging enough, the project spanned a time of political upheaval in Indonesia.

"The multiple changes in leadership and an economic crisis that devaluated the local currency forced the team to adjust the project to ensure its continued value and relevance to the agency. Nonetheless, we still accomplished the project's primary objectives," Zalesny said. "Being successful in international work requires flexibility and making adjustments to deal with the unexpected, while maintaining high project standards."

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