Transition Management
3 November 2017
From project to transition management
From project to transition management

Celebrating International Project Management Day (IPMD), 5 years of AgilePMO blog and Transition Manager Academy kick off.

Yesterday we were celebrating 14th International Project Management Day (IPMD), which is always the first Thursday of November. IPMD was founded by Frank Saladis with the purpose of promoting appreciation for project managers, their teams and their achievements. And today we are celebrating 5 years of AgilePMO blog.

As Frank reminds “IPM Day is not a celebration, it is a moment of recognition. Reserve your celebrations for your project successes and the achievements of your teams as they meet and overcome the challenges they encounter.  Offer a sincere thank you to your project managers, they are indispensable in the goal of providing value and positive business results.”

In this post I would like to say a big thank you to all people in project management profession I worked and working with at the moment. Your work, support, advice, feedback shaped me and contributed a lot to the person I am now.

Special thanks to all of you who helped making the Transition Manager Academy happen. There are a lot of people and lots of hours of hard work behind it and I know that the journey that started last week was worth all of these. Later in this post I would like to share some thoughts why transition management competencies are crucial for every project manager.

More on the Day and project management events in my previous posts – 2011 , 2012, 2013.

Why Transition Management?

There will always be projects, but project management’s roles will be different. Nowadays all strategic changes happen through projects and programmes. Therefore to manage projects is not enough, we need to lead the change in the organization and projects and programmes become just a tool to do so.

Project management is about people. Projects are delivered by people, for people and to people. Creating the Transition Manager Academy slogan ”Putting People at the Heart of Project Management” we would like to move the focus from technical project management to leadership. Creating a lasting change means recognising and managing the human side of that change.

Unfortunately, many changes, although have the strategic plans in place, lack a transition management.

What’s the difference between a change and a transition?

A change is an external event, something old stops and the new one starts. And the transition happens inside of us as we adapt to the external change. Transition is the gradual, psychological reorientation process that happens inside of us as we adapt to the changing environment and often results from a change, but might start before. This is a transition not a change that people resists.

When planning a change very often we forget to answer the question how it will affect people. We simply assume that if the changes are necessary people will adapt to them. Therefore no surprise that most changes (and projects) take longer, exceed the budgets and, instead of strengthening the organisation, will weaken it. They will leave people resentful, de-motivated, and confused at a time when commitment and creativity are essential.

According to Bridges’ Model people go through 3 steps of the transition.

It begins with ending, a loss – who is losing and what? In this phase name the loses and acknowledge them. Accept grieving as natural and necessary. Give and get all the information you need. „Sell” the problem, but don’t put down the past.

Once losses are understood and accepted people move to the neutral zone, which is in-between time – it isn’t the old way anymore, but it isn’t the new way yet either.  At this stage there are a lot of confusion, the trust, performance and productivity drop. As a leader you guide and lead people through the process and enhance trust by focusing on communication, temporary solutions and enhancing creativity and learning.

Helpful questions: Where are we going? Why? How will we get there? What part will I play in assuring that we get there? That is where the Four P’s come in: Propose (Why?)/Picture (What/)/Plan (How?) and Part (What’s my role?). Make sure your message include all four Ps.

Only after we have let go the old way and spent some time in the chaos of the neutral zone the new beginnings come. The new beginnings is the easiest phase of the transition providing the first two stages are managed well. Most people are energized, especially after the dark and confusing neutral zone. We are home again – it’s great to know (again) who you are, where we are going and what we are doing.

Some strategies for that phase are: clarifying changes we are making and providing opportunities to practice. Collaboration with others and focusing on achieving a few quick successes.

Core Activities in Transition Management

  1. Identifying where groups and individuals are, including yourself. Still grieving? Or maybe confused, frustrated and lost. Or happy and full of energy?
  2. Defining and implementing strategies for managing endings and losses
  3. Creating and implementing strategies for leading people through and profiting from the neutral zone
  4. Developing and implementing strategies for helping people to make a new beginning

Related reading

Transition Manager Role (Polish).

What is Transition Management and why is so challenging? (English)

Pierwszy w Polsce program na bazie Trójkąta Kompetencji Project Management Institute (Polish)

First course in Poland based on The Project Management Institute Talent Triangle (English).

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