Management Articles


It Isn't Change That Does You In, It's the Transitions

By: Thomas W. McKee

Thomas W. McKee is president of Advantage Point Systems, Inc., a staff development and change management firm. Thomas is an author, motivational speaker, trainer and leader. He has spoken to over 1/2 million people and taught the Advantage Point System method of change management to over 100,000 managers in companies like Hewlett Packard, Ernst and Young, Procter and Gamble, the California Department of General Services, and the IRS. ; For information about the Advantage Point System of managing change see

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William Bridges writes in ""Managing Transitions that many organizations make changes but fail in the process of transition. In order to successfully manage change, you must know the following.

Understand the major difference between change and transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss. Change is physical, like moving from California to Arizona.

But, the transition is the psychological process that people go through to come to terms with the new situation. This takes time. Transition starts with an ending. When you move, you have to have an ending. For a person to successfully make a change, they must leave the past.

Transition has a period of a neutral zone. The psychological period of transition is much slower than the physical. When you move to a new area, the physical change usually occurs fast. But the inward psychological transition happens much more slowly because instead of becoming a new person as fast as you change outwardly, you actually struggle for a time in a state that is neither new nor old. You feel like you have let go of one trapeze and are waiting for the next one to appear.

Unless transition takes place, change will not work.

The neutral zone is a time for creativity, renewal and development. The individual and organization that can capitalize on this time of transition will emerge with a new sense of growth.

Ending – Neutral Zone – and New Beginning. You can only make a new beginning if you first make an ending and spend some time in the neutral zone. However, most people and organizations try to start with the new beginning without finishing the old. The fail to pay important attention to the endings and the existence of the neutral zone.

© 1998 Advantage Point Systems Inc.

Other Articles by Thomas W. McKee

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