Transition Management Success Factors

Success factors to keep in mind when planning or working your way through a change process:

1.  Clarify the CHANGE IMPERATIVE for your organization

Gaebler and Osborne argue that necessity is still the mother of invention.  A sense of urgency, even crisis, is often required to get a change process kick started – often a financial or competitive crunch.  An effective change leader must help the team understand that change is the imperative, not an option; that it is time to move past denial.  At the same time, we must be clear about what has to be changed and what does not – both to protect organizational core strengths and to avoid feelings of being simply overwhelmed by too much change.

2.   Develop a CLEAR VISION of where you are going

People are not really afraid of change, but they are way of venturing into the unknown.  A sense of direction or a specific target to aim for, crafted by key stakeholders, will not only remove a critical block but also motivate and inpsire action.  If there is a working model, a successful example of the vision already in action, that can be kept in mind – even better.




3.  Develop strategies that understand and address the FORCES OF CHANGE

The successful change process always involves a critical evaluation of the forces that can be used to facilitate and drive change, that will restrain or resist change, and those forces that act to simply maintain the status quo (Kurt Loewen’s Force Field Analysis).  Past patterns of chage in the organization will also give clues.  Analysis of known barriers (the coffee talk) is always fruitful.  Each force must be addressed strategically; with measures taken to build on, overcome or circumnavigate the most important.






4.  Support the HUMAN DIMENSIONS of change

Self-directed, proactive change can be relatively quick.  But externally directed, reactive change is generally slow and painful – from both personal and organizational perspectives.  The leadership team cannot afford to minimize or skip over feelings of shock, denial, anger, sadness, or even corporate depression that ultimately undermine change processes.  Time and effort must be invested in working on the inevitable denial and resistance stages before the team can begin to focus on exploration and commitment.






5.  Address the NEUTRAL or IN BETWEEN ZONE

William Bridges has clarified that change involves an ending, a period of repositioning and renewal, and a beginning.  Each requires a unique set of management responses, but the middle period involves the highest risk and is often neglected.  Most change processes falter when the old has been ‘shot down’, but the new has yet to be installed.  The team must be creatively engaged in celebration of the ending, invention and planning during the in between zone, and supported as new ways of doing business gradually become the new routine.





 6.  Provide adequate RESOURCING and support for the change process

Robert Kent notes that the key success factor has to do with the dedication of the resources necessary to install the change – financial, human, time and technology/equipment.  Important change is not something that can be added to an already full plate; the process must be assigned some priority and put square in the middle of a change agent’s desk (not off the side).  Dalzeill and Schoonover suggest that the human resources assigned must in combination include: the inventor, the entrepreneur, the expert, the manager and the sponsor.  Gaebler and Osborne suggest that ‘outside resources’ are often required to find the additional expertise, objectivity and/or financial ability required.





7.  The catalyst of TRUSTED LEADERSHIP

Change is an inside out process that inevitably starts with a committed person both demonstrating and leading the transition.  This key individual is visionary and transformational; he or she inspires others to share the change leadership challenge.  When all is said and done, the commitment and integrity of the process champion(s) is the fundamental success factor. 

Change involves risk.  For individuals and teams to willingly risk, they must trust those around them to be there when there are setbacks – to nurture and support them during the process.   If the culture of the organization is not trust based, change is likely just a distant goal.  Conversely, a change process can be an ideal time to development a trust foundation that will serve you well into the future.


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