Are You Managing Change or is Change Managing You?

How to create success using change and Intentional Transition.

In a recent conversation with a colleague at a consulting company where I partner, we discussed change and how limited the processes are for dealing with the period of transition which is between the change and the new beginning.

As we all know “the only constant in the universe is change”. However most of us want things to stay the same or constant and so we resist change.

If we can initiate a mindset of the Transition as an exciting and creative period, our perspective will change, as will the success of innovation and new initiatives.

As a consultant I have worked with many companies who are engaged in acquisition, merger and reorganization. The stages of transition outlined in William Bridges’ book, Managing Transitions, Making the most of Change, introduce some practical mindsets and actions that make change have a positive transition period that will increase the success of the new beginning.

Change is situational, transition is psychological.

The stages of change and transition are

  1. The intentional ending phase where we stop doing things the old way and recognize that letting go of the old to make room for the new is important.
  2. Transitional Neutral Zone where innovations, new processes and enhanced perspectives can occur.
  3. New Beginning vs. New Start.

There are three crucial things to remember to allow change to create a positive environment.

  1. The change itself is something that is a given. Often people are expected to move forward without having let go of the previous way. I am sure you have seen organizations move forward with a change without taking the time to let go of the old way, or clarifying what will remain the same and what is going away. A good example of this is a company acquisition; change exists for both the company that is bought, as well as for the acquiring company. Discussions about what will be different are important, with the recognition that some of the old processes will disappear. Often change is only couched as a positive without the recognition that letting go of what has been the norm is a process that is necessary to bring forward new positive behaviors.
  2. The second stage, which can be the most neglected, is what Bridges calls the Transitional or the Neutral Stage during which the adjustment to the new takes place. It is important that the recognition of this essential stage be given time and priority for adjustments to take place. This can be a time of innovation and the development of new perspectives that will enable a successful new beginning.
  3. The third stage is the New Beginning which is greater than just a new start. The new beginning includes new perspectives and new practical tools that will be used to leverage the change. This follows the opportunity to realistically let go of the old processes and use the transition period for discovery and for innovation that may not have taken place otherwise.

Change management is a skill; however, the how-to for that skill can be learned and implemented if it is given time and priority. Giving an organization the opportunity to recognize the three stages of managing change, and to enable the transition throughout, is an essential first step in creating new reference points for new behavior.

Do you have a question, challenge, or success you would like to share? Please be sure to leave a comment. I would enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia