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Janet Gregory: Agile Consultant, Trainer, Advisor, Writer, Speaker

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a lounge chair relaxing on a beach enjoying the ocean view.  It’s a tough life, I know. We were at a resort in Thailand – pretty, clean, friendly people, a good dive shop with professional and well organized staff.

The ‘shuttle boat’ comes into shore to pick up equipment and divers to take them out to the actual dive boat. I watched the shuttle boat driver pull up, get out of his boat and walk towards the dive shop. He slowed down, looks at a bottle laying on the beach that had just washed up on shore, but steps over it and keeps walking.

I know he is part of the resort because of the t-shirt he is wearing, and I can only imagine why he did not stop to pick up the bottle. “It’s not my job – I drive the boat”.

Have you ever had that thought? I’m the programmer – let the tester find the bugs. I’m the tester – why didn’t the programmer do his / her job and just pick up that bottle before I had to find it.

I have a slide in many of my presentations that says “Instead of thinking it is my job to find bugs, or to …, why don’t we think about what I can do to help deliver a product successfully.”

Let’s take this idea back to the beach scenario. If every single employee of the resort thought “How can I make this the best vacation resort on the island”, what difference would that make?  Would the shuttle driver have picked up the bottle and then I would never have noticed it, or perhaps I would have thought – so that’s how they keep it so clean …

I could also take it one step further because I know if there would have been garbage cans around, I likely would have picked it up myself.  How can we create an environment that enables all team members to feel that they can contribute in small ways to deliver that successful product?

As an aside – this resort had someone come by every afternoon about 3:00 and sweep the beach clean. It was his/her job to pick up the bottles.

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