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Sea Star Wars: A Lesson in Organizational Change

· Agile Zone

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Sometimes in order to make a change happen, all you need to do is change the environment.

This summer I witnessed a great example of this in a small but fantastic aquarium in Ucluelet, BC. When you see a sea star in the ocean or at the aquarium, you rarely or if ever see them move. However, the staff at the aquarium instigated a sea star race by changing the environment. They put the feared Morning Sun Star in the same tank with other sea stars including the very large Sunflower Sea Star. Once the other sea stars detected the presence of the Morning Sun Star they all started to move away from it as fast as they could. The sudden reactions and speed of those sea stars was a sight to see – a turtle would have been proud!

If you have analysts, developers, testers and users who don’t communicate very well you can help encourage better communication by changing the environment. Create a co-located space and then have them all work in that space together. The environmental change forces them to acknowledge each other’s presence and begin working together. Instead of “Hey, there’s a dangerous Morning Sun Star in here and I have to run away before it eats me”, you should get reactions like “Hey – there’s a user in here, I guess I’ll show them the changes I’m making to this screen to get some feedback”.

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Published at DZone with permission of Steve Rogalsky , DZone MVB .

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