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Change (Growth) And Transition Management

At the beginning of 2023, my only sister (middle child) communicated to her older brother her observational research conclusions. She proceeded to say that I seem to go to organizations that require some form of significant change.

As I reflected on my life’s journey, each person, including myself, mentioned managing and adjusting to life change (growth) and transition. I have listened to comments expressed to me by team members, board members, volunteers, clients, community members, friends and foes regarding the change (growth) and transition needed at each organization. I have listened to hundreds of dialogues that occurred between the various groups mentioned.

I was taught at an early age and later reembraced the fact that as the world turns, there will be ongoing change (growth) and transition. If your organization is not changing (growing) and transitioning, you are being left behind. My first martial arts (Judo) sensei, Daddy, and my football, basketball and trach coaches in high school and college said that we were either getting better or worse. If you remain the same, your internal and external competitors are getting better and passing you by.

Always, and even more so since Covid entered and impacted the world scene, organizations are facing decisions to make swift changes. Competition, politics (new regulations and laws), economics, ecological philosophies, social conditions, and technology drive the organization’s need to change or become irrelevant or worse extinct. Your customers (purchaser or payer) and consumers (end user of the product/service) has a myriad of needs, values, goals and expectations that must be understood and addressed. Your organization must possess the ability to manage change, while continuing to meet these needs.

In 2009, William Bridges released the third edition of his book entitled, Managing Transitions. Bridges states that change (growth) is fast, situational, and happens without people transitioning. Transition is slow, psychological, and is a three-phase process where people accept gradually the details of the new situation and the changes that come with it.

The three phases are Ending, Neutral Zone, and New Beginning. Between the ending and neutral zone phase, people experience denial, shock, anger, frustration/stress, and ambivalence. Between the neutral zone and new beginning phase people experience skepticism, acceptance, importance, hope, and enthusiasm.

All of us encounter clients who are transitioning and traveling through the three phases. Are you transitioning? Has the thought or idea of something different or even the passing of the torch in leadership and board roles caused you to be in or between transition phases? If you answered yes, where are you on the transition road and what emotions are you experiencing?

Bridges suggests that leaders implement the following interventions to assist with transition:

  • Communicate individual behavior change (I will add that there must be a change in thinking to result in a change in behavior)

  • Identify & understand who will lose what

  • Sell the problem

  • Get in touch with the customer (member)

  • Talk to employees and volunteers and ask what problems they have with the change (growth)

  • Talk about the transition and let people know its human to feel

  • Hold regular team meetings even before the change (growth spurt)

Transition results in organizations moving through a life cycle that begins with Dreaming the Dream and moves into Launching the Venture, Getting Organized, Making it Big, Institutionalizing, Closing In, and Dying. The Laws of Organization Development include:

  • The people most comfortable in one phase experience the most setbacks in the next phase

  • The things that made one phase the most successful are usually those that have to be let go in the next phase

  • When you see pain in an organization, people are probably going through an organization transition

  • Don’t go half way

Leaders must seek and provide a safe environment for constructive feedback and you as the leaders need to hear and listen to every feedback. This feedback must be sought from your team, board, volunteers, community members, current clients, previous clients, and clients who choose to do business with another organization.

As your organization proceeds through the growth and transition management process, remember your organization is not a place or thing, for it is human. Your organization is comprised of people with values, beliefs, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Just as you may ask yourself, family members, friends, and clients to manage the transitions in their life, transitions in the life of an organization must also be managed.

Can your organization meet the mission, goals and objective by growing (changing) and managing transitions?


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