Last week I had the privilege of visiting with the United States Coast Guard in Charleston, SC. One of the highlights was the time spent in the Seahawk Interagency Operations Center with Commander Priebe. This center has the daunting mission of coordinating the efforts of over a dozen different law enforcement agencies, national, state, and local.
One of the key challenges in this effort is to encourage groups that are traditionally strongly siloed and independent to share information, and The United States Coast Guard accomplishes this using agile principles. The first thing I noticed was that everyone was seated in one large, open area. Cubicle partitions were low, to encourage the open sharing of information, and a massive 36-panel display that dominated the front of the room showed information pertinent to all the agencies and was visible to everyone.
We discussed how they overcame egos and agendas to encourage groups to share, and it became evident very quickly that this begins at the top of the organization and permeates throughout. “Playing nice” was not optional. It was essential to success. Osmotic communication is encouraged by design.
The United States Coast Guard has an enormous responsibility. In fact, it’s too large to accomplish alone, but they use the agile techniques of a war room, teamwork, and information sharing as a force multiplier. Seeing it in action was truly a thing of beauty.