As I observe the change process in groups, corporations and individual lives I notice ignoring the transition process blocks successful change rather than support successful change.  Without successful transition there is no change.

I know of an organization that made a major corporate change that drastically altered the corporate culture.  This change was mandated by the leaders, implemented within three months and those impacted were told to “deal with it.”  There was a call for transition planning, but, it was dismissed as too time consuming and essentially unnecessary.  Years later the organization is still divided and morale is still impacted.  The change happened, but not successfully.

Attending to the change process is essential.  Planning the transition is essential.  It doesn’t mean the decisions need to be delayed, but, it does mean that the impact of the decisions must be addressed if the change is to be real and meaningful.  Transition allows for a buy-in by the stakeholders.  Without the buy-in the stakeholders will appear to support the change (usually out of fear) but will resist the change and undermine the change through less than subtle means.  Leaders who fail to attend to the transition fail to bring about meaningful change.  One could even question whether or not they are true leaders.

Successful transition requires that a process be put in place that will help the stakeholders address the need and vision leading to the change.  If stakeholders know why something is happening it will increase their investment in the process.  The organization that I observed in this process used the approach of hitting fast and hard and truly believing the people would “get over it” and life would move on.  Much pain could have been avoided.

Successful transition requires that an impact assessment be put in place.  It is important to look at various scenarios in order to be able to both understand and address the impact of any change upon the values and ethos of a corporate culture.  The impacts are real and must be considered in the change is going to be successful.

Finally, successful transition requires that the leaders and the impacted community define in advance what successful change looks like.  There seems to be a tendency to not look at the full definition of successful change so that leaders can unintentionally and inauthentically declare a change to be successful.  It is a matter of seeing only what you want to see.

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