Why managing transition is important for business
A formal business transition plan is usually put into place when the original owner has decided they want to sell all or part of the business and leave.
However, businesses go through many transitions from sole proprietor, to partnership, to limited liability company perhaps as far as floating on the stock exchange. Businesses change products, services, personnel and marketing strategy. All these changes involve a period of transition a period when neither the old nor the new is quite in place. Add to that the fact that if business doesn’t evolve it dies, then you can see the importance of this process being managed well.
If your business is trying to be innovative then change is the inevitable outcome. Many people resist change as it can engender fear, of the unknown, of failure, of embarrassment. It is also a whole company issue, not just the guys at the top who have decided to implement the change. Resistance from lower down the organisation can sabotage the very innovation you are trying to effect.
This is why the process of managing transition is so crucial. Managing transition is not just about the new innovation you are trying to implement- it is also about the people involved in that change who may have to go through a personal transition of their own. Check out my article on personal transition on the Huffington Post.
Managing transition takes planning
This is not your usual business plan as it has to take into account the human factor and existing infrastructures. When you start a business the slate is clean, when you need to transition your business and take it in a different direction, the waters are a bit muddier!
Transition is a natural state for human beings, we have evolved and adapted to threats, climate changes, resource requirements, food scarcity, natural disaster and the oh so fun technological revolution.
However, we are also guilty of assuming complacently that where we are is okay, because change requires effort and challenges our existing assumptions. The death knell for any organisation is that well-worn phrase, “We’ve always done it this way”. Far better to embrace the concept behind this quote by Vishwas Chavan from his book http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15881943-vishwasutras
“Only those who are able to adapt to changing scenarios will continue to survive and prosper. Success is directly proportional to the degree of positive adaptation to change.”
I like that phrase- positive adaptation…managing transition so that your business adapts positively should be the goal.
Understanding how to manage the transition process
Managing transition is not a do ABC then you’re done kind of occurrence. Transition has a time period attached, it proceeds from one phase to the next it is not a sudden death event. It is not a throw the baby out with the bath water event either. Business succeeds by truly understanding what they do well and doing more of that, plus identifying what they do badly and improving or replacing that.
Let me use myself as an example. I was a highly successful company director, I knew my stuff, I did it well and my business thrived. Then the train crash forced transition on me, not of my choosing. I had to adapt to survive- more importantly my business model underwent a radical change, but not all at once. My process was, survive, literally, get angry, do something about it, campaign, make a difference. During that period, I discovered my talent for public speaking but my topics back then were rooted in my train crash story. My business was literally my experience; but I am far more than that.
So, my transition is to take my lessons learned, refine them, apply them, identify the key critical learning and share it with others. I have years of highly qualified corporate experience and my life experience gives me a unique slant, but it does not limit or restrict me. My business is that of speaker, author, motivator, business expert; I am transitioning into a new area, while retaining the best bits of the old.
Managing transition can be exciting
For a business, innovation can be invigorating and hopefully profitable. Managing the transition needed to implement that innovation does not have to be a negative process. The whole company needs to “buy in” to the process- have part ownership of managing transition and resistance is thereby reduced.
My next blog post will look at some techniques for managing and systemising transition so it flows more smoothly.