Difference between change and transition Bridges Model Endings: how to help people let go The Neutral Zone: how to navigate through Beginnings: encouraging progress Next steps
Change is situational Update in circumstances Definite “start” and “stop” Move to Oregon territory Transition is psychological Adapting to the change No obvious “start” and “stop” Internalize the details of the move– coming to terms with a new “way of life”
Transition isn’t optional. If circumstances change, people must adapt– people must learn how to operate in the new situation. Change succeeds based on how well the transition goes… Do the people affected do things differently? Or do they cling to the “old ways”? If change is part of life and transition is necessary, we should learn to help people through transitions… in order to make change successful.
Transition starts with Ending– letting go of the old ways It continues with The Neutral Zone– a time when repatterning takes place, before the new ways are fully adopted Transition ends with a New Beginning– developing a new identity and new habits
Transition starts with letting go. Before you can learn a new way, you have to let go of the old one Most people don’t like endings– they bring a sense of loss: Anger Sadness Anxiety Depression Confusion
Identify who’s losing what Take note of “chain reaction” losses Accept the reality and importance of these losses Loss is subjective Understand “overreaction” New losses can trigger memories of old losses Use empathy to acknowledge losses openly Talk about losses and express concern
Accept the signs of grieving Emotion is natural and to be expected Compensate for losses Try to balance what’s been taken away Offer information Keep people informed about the change Define what’s over and what isn’t Be specific, so people know how to transition
Mark the ending Actions speak louder than words Respect the past Distinguish past from future without being negative about old ways Communicate the larger purpose Many endings allow for continuity of something bigger Don’t drag it out Plan and execute promptly to allow healing to start
Between the Ending and the New Beginning is a time of uncertainty The old ways are gone, but the new ways aren’t completely established This time can be dangerous: Anxiety rises and motivation falls Productivity suffers Weaknesses can re-emerge Signals get mixed People can become polarized But… New ideas can come forward The status quo can be challenged
Normalize the Neutral Zone Reorientation and redefinition must take place– it’s normal and expected Redefine the Neutral Zone Use a positive metaphor Create temporary processes and procedures Structure helps to stabilize expectations Strengthen connections Rebuild a sense of identification and “team”
Monitor the transition Get regular feedback Be creative! Encourage questions, experimentation, and innovation
A New Beginning is a signal of more than a new situation New understandings, new values, new attitudes, and new identities Beginnings can be scary: The ending becomes more real Can be seen as a gamble Can trigger memories of past failures The flexibility of the Neutral Zone is over But… New energy can be released New commitments can be made
New Beginnings cannot be forced according to your own agenda But they can be encouraged, supported, and reinforced Use the Four Ps to assist: Purpose Picture Plan Part
Clarify and communicate the purpose: Why is the change required? What is the evidence? What happens if there’s no change? Be honest about the purpose of the change. No one will get behind a cliché.
Create a picture How will the outcome look? How will it feel? Develop a plan Outline the steps and schedule for releasing information, training, and support Give people a part to play How can they help with the transition? What is the new role? How do relationships change?
Split into four groups Each group is assigned a “P” Purpose Picture Plan Part What can we (as leaders or as A-dec) do differently/better to encourage New Beginnings for large projects in the future? Be prepared to report out in 10 minutes
Be consistent in your messaging. Inconsistency creates confusion Ensure quick successes. Find low-risk tasks to be accomplished Symbolize the new identity. Symbols evoke emotion and meaning Celebrate success. Mark the beginning with a celebration
With your team, explore: What exactly is changing for your area? Who is impacted by the change and how? What chain reactions can be foreseen? Symbolic activity: Using 2 post-its or index cards, ask each member of your team to write: Something they’re excited to let go of or leave behind with the change Something they’re concerned about losing Discuss all responses as a team, dropping post-its/cards in a recycling bin as you go Talk about how to address concerns– develop an action plan if possible
If possible, assign a member of the team to be the Transition Champion: Receive feedback from the team Monitor what’s working and what isn’t Report back to leader, then discuss as a team Remember– the “flipping of the switch” for the change is just a milestone in the transition process (during the Neutral Zone) New Beginnings will happen at different times for different people
Using Managing Transitions by William Bridges, PhD. 3rd ed. 2009.