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Four States Of Transition Management

Phase 3: State of Confusion

Resistance doesn’t give way to change but to confusion. People experiencing change find themselves confused. What used to be clear and comfortable is now confusing. What was simple feels complex. Change efforts begin by deconstructing the current status quo. Unfortunately, creating what’s next can’t happen in tandem with deconstruction. Let me rephrase that a bit. A leader can attempt to tear down the old while simultaneously building the new, but that change process ignores the time needed for transition and therefore doesn’t work.

The state of confusion is essential. It gives time for people to bury the old way before birthing the new. In this state, everyone wants to “just go back to the way we used to do it.” That’s a good sign. Just wanting to go back means you’re making progress in moving forward. Stick it out. The state of confusion will give way to a new, better state.

FYI: Innovation can thrive in this state if leadership manages the transition well.

Phase 4: State of Conversion

The state of transformation is the final, desired state. Most leaders don’t realize they’ll need to pass through the previous states first, though. Shortcut the contention and confusion, and you’ll shortchange the change. Change only sticks when leaders actively manage people through the necessary states of transition.

I’ve led through lots of organizational change. I’ve experienced even more. The most important thing I’ve learned is that leading change isn’t enough. A change leader must also be a transition manager for anything to change.


This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission