Don’t Tell Me a Story. Paint Me a Picture.

Organizational Change. Reorganization. Staff reductions. More reorganization. Near constant change. The pace of change across so many industries and companies, big and small, is increasing or does it just feel that way?

During these times I focus on my experience and professional understanding of Change Management as a practice to design a structured approach and comprehensive plan to reach that horizon just out of reach. Yet, as I like to remind myself and others within shouting range, “All this would be easy, if not for all the people.” 

An understanding that all change is individual change. Each of us is a person working through the very human, psychological process of letting go of one pattern and engaging with a new reality for our work life. This is called transition management and is necessary along with our detailed and smart change management plans full of comms, training, and clever ways to address resistance. 

How well we manage these transitions makes all the difference for how well each of us moves from where we stand on known shores to step forward toward the new reality just past the horizon. An organizational model that focuses on this transition process was developed by William Bridges and presented in his classic book, “Managing Transitions”.

On that short stack of books that every manager should read and absorb, this book is one of my top recommendations. Not to be a better manager, but a better leader. As I have stated throughout this blog, leadership is influence. What is more powerful for a leader than to successfully influence their team to complete the transition from a current reality that is ending to a new beginning just past the horizon.

William Bridges makes the distinction between (1) the change management process and (2) the human transition process that I referred to above. His model, all so human, has three stages (we do like three-part models). 

  • ENDINGS – Letting go of the old ways and the old identity. To help people deal with their losses.
  • NEUTRAL ZONE – The in-between time when the old is gone but the new isn’t fully operational. A time when critical psychological realignment and repatterning take place.
  • NEW BEGINNINGS – Where people develop a new identity, experience new energy, and discover a new sense of purpose.

“Transition begins with an ending

and finishes with a beginning.”

William Bridges

I invite you to discover more about William Bridges and his work on Managing Transitions. For today I want to share four things he stresses to encourage commitment from each person experiencing the change and accept that new beginning. The four P’s (we do like alliteration).

  • A PURPOSE – for the future after the change.
  • A PICTURE – that engages the creative imagination. So people can ‘touch and feel’ the positive situation after the change.
  • A PLAN – that is credible, and gives people a clear route to success in implementing the change.
  • A PART to PLAY – both in the execution of the plan and in the ‘new world’ after the change.

To finish my thoughts for today, I want to focus on ‘creating a picture’ for people. How well we engage the creative imagination of the people experiencing the change. The power of a leader through her brush strokes to help people touch, feel, and experience the new beginning can make all the difference for a change effort.

The ability of a leader to tell a story is important, but the ability to paint a picture that pulls each of us in to experience the new reality sets the path to acceptance and movement forward, together.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Built with

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: