Organizational Transitions

“There is no sin punished more implacably by nature than the sin of resistance to change”
-Anne Morrow Lindberg

organizational meeting

Organizations are dynamic and unpredictable. They are aptly characterized by the acronym VUCA- Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous. Most organizations live in perpetual transition. Everyone involved is trying to understand it and looking for the optimal strategy to successfully navigate their way to the elusive, and perhaps even more daunting destination we call “next”.

What is so exciting about this period in the organizational life cycle is captured in three key findings: The first is we now recognize the complexity involved in the rhythm of transition and have applied that knowledge to better understand and succeed in managing it. An illustration of this is the identification of actual transitional “phases” - beginning, middle and end - and a growing belief that we must successfully work through each of them with tasks and results that indicate progressive movement along the continuum.

The second findings is that transitions can be a time of great personal and organizational development. As many know from their own experiences, transitions can be uncomfortable times of anxiety and uncertainty. As humans we want balance and predictability. To get it we do things to restore our stability (homeostasis) and get back on track. This often requires that we do things differently, adopt new behaviors - perhaps even “rethink” how we make sense of events and our interactions. It sets the stage for a process of self-discovery and adaptation.

The third and perhaps most powerful realization about transitions is that they are actually times of huge opportunity. The days when organizations scrambled to immediately hire a new replacement for their departing CEO or took dramatic steps to craft an overnight solution to an organization’s challenges are being put on hold. While still feeling uncomfortable and anxious, organizations and individuals are hitting the pause button to consider options and thoughtfully and comprehensively develop strategies, plans, and timelines.