The 3 phases of transition
Updated: May 27, 2021
Why is it important to respect the cycle of transition?
Transition, where are you at?
According to William Bridges, all transitions follow the same cycle: epilogue – liminal space – renewal. If the temptation is great to go directly to renewal, the benefits associated with it, such as renewed energy, desire, motivation and the ability to project ourselves, can only be reached if the first two steps have taken place. Even the most motivated go through them, and it is therefore urgent, including at a team level, to give ourselves time to properly live and close each stage.
The epilogue, even on a chosen transition, is a phase of resistance. The status quo is broken, the gains are still hypothetical, and the emotions are high. One of the things we resist is the need to assess what we are going to lose in this transition. Loss of control, time, comfort, work, reputation, relationships, skills, recognition… To be clear with what we lose is about learning to give up and be able to close the previous chapter, but also about going back to the essence and activating our creativity to identify how to meet the needs that will no longer be. As a team, this is the time to give purpose, to explain, to reassure, and to create time for sharing to express emotions and define together what we are ready to give up and what we want to keep.
The liminal space, from the Latin limen which means threshold, is a space of passage to the limit of that we are able to perceive and conceive. It is an in-between zone where we know what is no longer but not yet what will be. It is the chrysalis stage of the caterpillar, which can lead us to question the very core of our beliefs, practices and identities. As uncomfortable and difficult as it is, it is essential to our transformation. It is by accepting it, taking care of ourselves and experimenting, that we go through this liminal space. As a team, this is the time to stay on track, set guidelines, acknowledge the challenges, support and encourage progress.
Then the transition makes sense, then comes the time to project ourselves, to symbolize, to structure, and to celebrate the renewal. As a team, it is the time to activate collective intelligence, to value initiatives, to be responsible and to set new objectives.
After reading this article, think about the transition you are going through:
What stage of the cycle are you at?
What would deserve your attention?
Sources: William Bridges transition model - How to Deal with Big Life Changes: Endings, Neutral Zones and New Beginnings (Andreea Nastase) - The Liminal Space, Embracing the Mystery and Power of Transition from What Has Been to What Will Be (Alan Seale) - Accompagnement du changement : le modèle transitionnel de Bridge (Raphaël Grange)