At the end of Andrew Fuqua’s presentation on “How to Energize Your Team” at agile-atlanta the conversation turned to how change affects teams. I drew and explained the Satir Change Curve.


Late Status Quo – things humming along nicely. Everyone know what’s expected from them and how to do it. In a word – comfortable. Eventually along comes a

Foreign Element – this event shocks the system. It could be a manager forcing a team to move to a team room. It could be changing from gated to incremental and iterative development.

Chaos – means the systems now operates in ways we cannot predict. People no longer know exactly what’s expected, and if they have an idea, they don’t know how to do it. Team members may try many ideas to get a semblance of order.

Transforming Idea – the team discovers how the change benefits them. They discover osmotic communication. When they need quiet to focus, earbuds covered by noise canceling headsets! (I’ve seen it done)

Integration and Practice – the team experiments with their environment. Add mood lighting. Agree to periods of quiet time for focusing. Implementing whole team development.

New Status Quo – where the team has accepted the change to the team room and have become comfortable in it. They know what to do, and how to do it. Which eventually becomes the next Late Status Quo.

This represents the change “happy path”. The journey from Late to New Status Quo contains many hazards and opportunities to revert to the Late Status Quo.

Sometimes, it seems like people asking other people to change believe change happens like flipping a switch. When they see people holding on to what used to work, flailing, or trying out many new ideas they think something is wrong–either with the change or the people. But this process is normal, natural, inevitable.

If your organization is going through a change and you need help, give me a call or send an email.