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Managing Transitions, 25th anniversary edition: Making the Most of Change Paperback – January 10, 2017
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Managing Transitions was timely when it first appeared twenty-five years ago. It is even more relevant now, at a time of unprecedented change and transition. The Bridges' deep understanding of how we experience the destabilizing forces of change--and their well-tested strategies for helping people through it--are more important than ever.
―Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach, business educator, and New York Times best-selling author, ranked top leadership thinker in the world by Thinkers50
A very wise book by a very wise man. This new edition is a celebration of William Bridges' original insights and practical guidance. With incisive contemporary cases and immediately useful applications, Susan Bridges masterfully reintroduces his exceptional work to a new generation.
―Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the best-selling The Leadership Challenge
Pick up any business book today and you will find words about unending change. What better guide for this unrelenting change than someone who has spent decades studying and reporting on how to survive it? If you need that guide--grab this book! William and Susan Bridges provide a road map to get through the most difficult work and life passages.
―Beverly Kaye, founder, Career Systems International; coauthor, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em
This richly updated new edition of the insightful Managing Transitions, filled with fresh and compelling examples, will be indispensable for leaders trying to guide their organizations through a period of unsettling change by managing the pain and uncertainty of the neutral zone. A timely update to a timeless book.
―Sally Helgesen, author, The Female Vision, The Web of Inclusion, The Female Advantage, and Thriving in 24/7
Managing change is a way of life in today's organizations, yet too often it's handled poorly. That's why Managing Transitions has become the essential guide on how to do it right. This new, revised edition deftly guides the reader through the organizational change process from start to finish, offering practical advice grounded in the authors' vast experience working with every size and type of organization. This book is must reading for every leader, manager, and employee undergoing a change process. Come to think of it, doesn't that include just about everyone?
―John Alexander, president, Leadership Horizons and former president and CEO of the Center for Creative Leadership
The most important idea I have encountered about organizational change is this: great change requires human transition. Decades of experience have proven that no magic set of steps, no financial incentive, no clever argument, and no threat can guarantee that a workforce will embrace change. People need real help in psychologically transitioning to a new situation--and that help is available here. In this fourth edition of Managing Transitions, William and Susan Bridges further expand their proven approach for helping people and organizations embrace real change.
―Walter McFarland, coauthor of Choosing Change and board chair emeritus for the Association for Talent
Managing Transitions is an essential guide for leaders and Chief People Officers who are navigating transitions and change within any organization. It is also a handbook in life for dealing with endings, new beginnings, and the disruptive 'neutral zone' in between. This book provides a pathway to human and authentic leadership and a way to gracefully navigate through the changes we all face in life.
―Gabrielle Toledano, EVP and chief talent officer, Electronic Arts, Inc.
Susan Bridges has done something generous, courageous, and brilliant with her updating of this classic and treasured book by Bill Bridges. In a collaborative process with the ideas of her late husband and business partner, she has made the language, concepts, and examples fresh again and available to a new audience. Bill's ideas have been fundamental to my own practice, and now they will inspire a new generation of leaders and change-makers to be wise, humane, and strategic, as they move their complex organizations through and increasingly challenging set of realities.
―B. Kim Barnes, CEO, Barnes & Conti Associates; author, Exercising Influence: Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community
Change is constant in today's global business environment, and yet change management continues to be a challenge for most organizations. That's why Managing Transitions remains an important book; it identifies the critically important role that understanding the human size of transition plays in effective change management. This updated edition is a must-read for anyone who wants to lead change successfully.
―Tony Bingham, president and CEO for the Association for Talent Development
"[A] brilliant book."―Entrepreneur.com
About the Author
William Bridges, PhD, was an internationally known speaker, consultant, and author, and a preeminent authority on change. For decades, he showed thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations how to deal more productively with transitions.
Susan Bridges, president of William Bridges Associates, consults with leaders and organizations facing unprecedented change. She provides insight and tools to capitalize on the potential for development and innovation during transition. She lives in Marin County, California.
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Fast forward to Lencioni’s foreword in the 25th anniversary edition of "Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change." Lencioni writes, “All too often, people and organizations that are confronted with change find themselves struggling and don’t know why. They’ve applied every practical solution, quantitative method, and technical approach to managing change, and they’re at a loss for why it’s not working."
Lencioni adds (with gratefulness), “And then they learn about the Bridges transition model and realize that change and transition are very different animals.”
I never met William Bridges, but here’s what I said in my 2007 review of this national bestseller:
Bridges writes, “Imagine that the change [you’re planning] is a cue ball rolling across the surface of a pool table. There are lots of other balls on the table, and it’s going to hit a few of them, some because you planned it that way and some unintentionally. Try to foresee as many of those hits as you can.”
When this book was first published in 1991, it was recognized as the definitive guide to dealing with change. It still holds that position. If it’s not on your organization’s resource shelf, it needs to be.
William Bridges writes, “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, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”
Being the boss is not always what it’s cracked up to be. When the book was first published, according to Bridges, employees were winning more than half of the wrongful discharge cases filed. “Stress-related disability, including the claimed stress of working for you, is another increasingly common complaint.”
The 25th anniversary edition describes the book as “the best-selling guide to dealing with the human side of organizational change.” I’ve recommended the book to almost every one of my clients.
Change is a given—but how thoughtful leaders, managers, and board members handle the psychological impact of transitions requires both understanding the problem and executing three critical steps:
Step 1: Understand that transition begins with letting go of something. (See also Henry Cloud’s insights in Necessary Endings, my 2011 book-of-the-year.)
Step 2: Enter the neutral zone (the no man’s land between the old reality and the new). Some will abort in this zone, not wanting the pain. But it’s also the place where creativity, renewal and development will often occur. “The neutral zone is thus a dangerous and opportune place, and it is the very core of the transition process.”
Step 3: Celebrate the new beginning, but it’s often torpedoed because leaders don’t mark an appropriate end to the neutral zone (or skip it altogether). The new beginning can only be effective when your people go through the first two steps.
I love books that include pithy quotations—and I counted a whopping 87 quotes in the generous margins, including this from G.K. Chesterton: “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly understood. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly understood.”
Before you announce the next big change at your organization, read this book!