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Change Management’s Role in Preserving the Island Vibe: Reflections from Key West, FL

By June 24, 2021March 28th, 2024Change Management

Sharing an observational essay by CARA’s Director, Organizational Change Management Andrew Barnitz 

Many professionals take vacations to escape the daily grind of their jobs and careers. But in my line of work, I am surrounded by examples of change management both on and off the clock. A ‘good’ example of change management occurred on a recent trip to Key West, FL. Key West is the southernmost point of the continental US and is known for its island vibe, remarkable sunsets, live music, and Conch Fritters (a local delicacy). But because it is a destination of choice, it is often over-run by tourists (like me). But despite the overcrowded nature of this ‘key’, natives and visitors alike treat this beautiful piece of Earth as their own.  

Photo courtesy of Andrew Barnitz

Why? Well, there are several contributing factors. But perhaps the most visible example is the use of sidewalk signage that accompanies most, if not all, sewers along the famed Duval Street. This is a simple, yet effective, example of ‘change management’. For one, the use of the ‘dolphin’ image tugs at the hearts of visitors (and natives, too). Secondly, the use of the language ‘DRAINS TO OCEAN’ resonates with locals who recognize that much of their livelihood and leisure activities are directly linked to the ocean.  


As change professionals, we strive to minimize change resistance but accelerate adoption. And we recognize that in order to achieve meaningful behavior change (i.e., ‘no dumping’), it is imperative that we communicate with purpose, we tailor our messages, and we enroll our stakeholders (i.e. natives and tourists) in our collective mission.  


Would Key West be able to achieve similar results if this alternative sewer signage was used: “$100 FINE FOR DUMPING”?  Let me know your thoughts.

The CARA Group

Author The CARA Group

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