Life is about adapting to change and ever-increasing demands. William Bridges was right: “It’s not the changes that do you in. Ifs the transitions.”
Organizations must continually change. The question is “how?” The leader’s task is to make change work by helping others through transition.
A successful transition …
- Explains what is and what isn’t over. Some things never change: You will continue to serve customers and produce products. What changes is not what you do but how you do it. Help people identify what is and is not over.
- Respects the past. The practices that frustrate you today were someone’s innovative solutions of the past. Do not criticize widely accepted practices. Accept them as right for that time while recognizing that times change.
- Ensures the “important stuff” continues. What is the important stuff to you? Service? Ethics? Whatever it is, it must continue. Involve others in defining the “important stuff” and ensure that the change does not disregard them. This increases support for the change.
- Sets the stage for the future. Today’s change will open your eyes to new opportunities. As you evolve, set goals for what you want to achieve. Measure and evaluate progress. And, show others how the change will move them toward a positive future.
- Recognizes its day will end. Don’t assume that today’s solution will work forever. And don’t think that this will be the last change.
Long-term success depends on anticipating and responding to change and making the transition.