Change and transition phases

A river metaphor serves us well in understanding the journey of change. On land we can see where we are going, have a sense of the ‘lay of the land’, the ground under our feet, a horizon towards which we are walking. We are land animals able to think about the impact of the weather on our march, and adjust our plans accordingly. In the water, however, things are very different. We can swim, but for most of us it requires a conscious effort. We can’t see what’s underneath, and a change in the current can throw us off course very quickly. If we are pulled under, even for a short period of time, we can feel like we are drowning unless help is at hand to pull us back up and help us get to the other side. No matter how good the plans to swim from one bank to the other, there is a lot about this journey that is unknown and, in the beginning, unknowable. Once we get to ‘the other side’, we are now back on familiar terra firma, but it is not entirely the same as the land we have left behind. There are new things to explore here, but the hard part of the transition is over.

The three phases of change:

1. The ending – what needs to change externally, and also within us, to make room for the new?

2. Neutral zone – time to observe, test, communicate, learn; not the time to stop.

3. New beginning – vision and plans emerge, optimism and ownership increase; success is imminent.

Please note this is taken from taken from pp. 231-33 of One World AtLast.

Image courtesy of

good lifePost by Fabian Dattner, Partner

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