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Book Reviews

Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change

by William Bridges

“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational; the new site, boss, team, roles or new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.” -William Bridges

William Bridges understands transition management as well or better than any of the change management experts. His writing is based on over 25 years of working with thousands of people and several hundred organizations in transition seminars. The best thing about Bridges is that he writes Managing Transitions in an organized and useable way and he offers tactics to help people cope with changes.

The book is organized into four parts:

  1. Useful perspective on the difficulties associated with change and transition highlighted by a case study.
  2. Practical action steps to deal with the three phases of transition.
  3. Ways to deal with nonstop change organizationally and personally.
  4. A final case study that employs the strategies and tactics laid out for each transition phase.

As Bridges introduces key concepts, he then provides checklists that help the reader question, understand and perhaps, create some action steps to manage transition. The key concepts are:

  • Change causes transition and transition starts with an ending. We must let go of the past before moving on to a new beginning.
  • The neutral zone is the uncertain time and place between the ending and the new beginning – it is typically a time of great confusion as well as great creativity.
  • Many beginnings abort because they were not preceded by well-managed endings and neutral zones.
  • To handle nonstop change you need an overall design within which the various and separate changes are integrated.
  • Take care of yourself by learning to do all that you are able, and then let go.

If you want to better understand how change + human beings = transition and how to manage transition more effectively for yourself or for your organization, we highly recommend this book by William Bridges.