Three Steps to Transition
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7 August 2013 - 23:53, by , in Lean Six Sigma, No comments

“We’re all going to Krispy Kreme,” said Barry Cameron, co-author of The Principles.

None of his staff had been on a field trip since elementary school. As a result, the Crossroads Christian Church employees were surprised when senior pastor Barry Cameron announced in February 2004 that everyone was going on a one hour, onsite visit to the local Krispy Kreme doughnut shop.

Question:
What was the pastor’s purpose for taking the church staff to Krispy Kreme?

Answer:Prepare for a transition from the existing 15-acre site to a new 150-acre campus. Staff ate, watched, learned and made notes of Krispy Kreme’s successful practices. People adapted what he or she saw to their job or ministry. As documented in a popular new book Making Dough, every organization can benefit from practicing Krispy Kreme’s commitment to quality, consistent standards, practical uses of technology and giving back to the community. People telling other people about a positive experience is the most powerful, least expensive advertising Krispy Kreme, Crossroads Christian Church or any organization can buy.

Transitions are the process of moving from one situation or activity to another. They are mini-life cycles that take us from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Some transitions we initiate. Others are cast upon us. Are you or your organization experiencing a transition?

Types of transitions:

  1. Job loss
2. Marriage
3. Divorce
4. 9/11
5. Unprofitable
6. Retirement
7. Relocation
8. Out of working capital
9. New technology
10. Death in family

As discussed in my article Recession or Transition?, recessions are easier to handle than transitions. Recessions are predictable. Transitions are not. There are decades of records showing bear markets followed by the bulls. Transitions are less predictable. Using the three steps… Terminate, Timeout and Transform… you, your organization and I can control our transitions.

Terminate
Every transition begins with an end. “We have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new — not just outwardly, but inwardly, where we keep our connections to the people and places that act as definitions of who we are.”(1)

Noble improvement iniatives…ABM, Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, New Years’ resolutions, losing weight, stop smoking… are abandoned 90% of the time because the implementer never ended their hold on previous practices, policies or procedures. For some people and organizations, a known negative is preferred to an unknown positive.

Three Ways to Terminate:

  • Prioritize… “We live in a favored age yet do not feel favored.” (2)Separate wants from needs. I want a Lexus but I need a car. Define what you or your organization need, not want. If that need is not being met with existing people, systems, practices, processes, products or procedures, terminate the old and germinate the new.
  • Write… Prepare two lists: things you enjoy and things you don’t. Or a list of things your company enjoys and profits from followed by a list of things it doesn’t. In I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This, author Julie Jansen provides a series of multiple-choice questions to help understand what bugs you and what thrills you. Stomp the bugs and go in search of a thrill.
  • Forgive… One form of endings is letting go of a grudge or hurt with forgiveness. According to Gregg Easterbrook in The Progress Paradox, people who forgive when wronged have better outcomes than people who hold a grudge. “That is to say, whether someone forgave for reasons of faith or of secular ethics, the benefits were the same.” (2)

Who Moved My Cheese? is a popular book about transitions. After their usual source of cheese dried up, Haw and Hem were confused as to what to do. Haw refused to change. He returned to the old source everyday, even though there was nothing to eat. His partner Hem terminated reliance on the old source and bravely ventured out into a maze of rooms. Hem soon found lots of cheese but could never get Haw to follow.

Time Out 
The second phase of transition is Time Out. It’s the neutral zone between the ending and the new beginning. In the foreword of Who Moved My Cheese, Ken Blanchard says, “The ‘Maze’ in the story represents where you spend time looking for what you want. It can be the organization you work in, the community you live in, or the relationships you have in your life.” (3)

Time Out is difficult. It’s when you’ve let go of one trapeze with faith that the new trapeze is on its way. In the meantime, it seems like there’s nothing to hold on to.

  • Anxiety rises.
  • Tempers rise.
  • You feel disoriented and self-doubting.
  • Old weaknesses, long patched over or compensated for, reemerge.
  • Mixed signals prevail… should I go or not?

To survive and thrive during the second step of transition, I recommend:

  • Lean… Have something solid to hold on to. Something that will not and does not change. During transitions, I lean on my faith in God. Change needs to be deeper than outward behavior. “Change always begins in the heart of an individual.” (4)Be quiet. Listen to your soul … both your head and heart holds the answers for your new beginning.
  • Listen… Talk one-on-one with people who have successfully transitioned. Listen and learn from their experience. Wisdom will prevent relapses and move you towards your new beginning. To foster mutually beneficial relationships of CEO’s and COO’s caught between jobs, my friend John Casey founded Netweavers in 2001. “From assistance with job searches to identifying consultants, suppliers and vendors with reputations of excellence, CEO Netweaverssupport one another through a spirit of trust, altruism and solid business acumen.”(5)
  • Leave… Find a time and place to be alone. In business, they’re called sabbaticals. Moses, Jesus and Apostle Paul called them wilderness visits. The marooned character played by academy-award-winning-actor Tom Hanks in Castaway “finds himself a different man – much deeper, much more observing, much less demanding – all because of the lessons learned in solitude, quietness, and obscurity.” (6)If a weekend sabbatical to a secluded cabin is not practical, set aside a 30-minute daily quiet time, as I do, to ponder your past future and picture your future.

Transform
The third step of transition is to transform. Endings can be sad and the time following painful, but nothing is so sweet as a new beginning.

Mom and Dad died within 62 days of each other during the Fall 2003. The following weeks were filled with probating wills, handling the estate, emptying their home and mourning. But in Spring 2004 I am being renewed, for the birth of my third grandson, Addison Noel King, is expected within days. Birth transforms sadness to great joy.

“Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.” (7) Here are three steps I’ve found useful to transform opportunities into successful transitions:

  • Process… Transformation is a process, not an event. Transitions are not microwaveable. The event of winning the lottery does not make the winner a wise investor. In fact, most lottery winners are broke and/or divorced within five years of winning. In contrast, study the financial process used by Jim and Sue McIntyre, a middle-aged couple making $50,000 annually featured in David Bach’s new book The Automatic Millionaire. By saving 10%, tithing 10% and spending the rest, their net worth exceeds one million dollars! Transition and transformation take time but it takes a plan.
  • Plan… “Plans are immensely reassuring to most people, not just because they contain information but because they exist.” (8)The Israelites likely murmured more than once, “Do you think Moses has any plan, or do you think he’s making it up as he goes along?” One of the steps in my family’s plan to become debt free by 2010 was to downsize our home and mortgage. We did that in 2003. Do you have a financial plan … at home or at work … or are you making it up as you go along?
  • Picture… “Purposes are critical to beginnings, but they are rather abstract. They are ideas and most people are not ready to throw themselves into a difficult and risky undertaking simply on the basis of an idea.” (8)For example, Moses translated the idea of a Promised Land into a picture of a Land of Milk and Honey. You have a clear picture of your situation before the transition. Create a picture after the transformation takes place. To help ICMS clients transform, I create an actual Activity Based Management picture from their organization instead of totally relying on my textbook of words.

Can you picture any of these transitions taking place in 2004?

  • End gross margin pricing and begin gross margin profiling.
  • End fast foods and begin food fasting.
  • End managing the workers and begin managing the work.
  • End focusing on wants and begin focusing on needs.
  • End nightmares and begin dreaming.
  • End excuses and begin action.
  • End pricing the product and begin pricing the service.
  • End mourning and begin a new morning.

Recessions have a beginning and an end. So do successful transitions. I used the lyrics from a song titled “The Storm is Over Now”, to encourage me through a couple of transitions last year. The chorus says…

“The storm is over now

I can feel the sunshine

Somewhere beyond the clouds

It’s over now, over now

Heaven is over me

So come on and set me free, set me free” (9)

Transition can seem dark and cloudy. But on the other side of the cloud is the light of a new, great, exciting beginning. Are you or your organization being transformed? Me too! Let’s meet at Krispy Kreme. First round of coffee and doughnuts is on me.

(1) Transitions, William Bridges, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1980
(2) The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook, Random House, 2003
(3) Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson, M.D., G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998
(4) The Maxwell Leadership Bible, John Maxwell, Thomas Nelson, 2002
(5) http://www.ceonetweavers.org
(6) Paul, Charles Swindoll, Word Publishing, 2002
(7) Transitions, William Bridges, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1980
(8) Managing Transitions, William Bridges, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1991
(9) The Storm is Over Now, Words & Music R. Kelly, T.D. Jakes & The Potter’s House Choir, 2000

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Tom Pryor
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