Recipe for Successful Business Transitions

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Business changes.  It is inevitable that an organization will need to navigate several transitions each year. Some will be critical to success, others will optimize performance, and still others will resolve an underlying issue.

Leaders need to learn how to navigate these transitions, limit the drag that they can cause in an organization, and drive real value from the results.  Successfully doing so results in business acceleration.

Over the past five years as CEO of Three Pillar, I have learned a few keys to successful transitions. I’ve compiled them here into a “recipe” for successful business transitions. Hopefully you can leverage these lessons for your next transition.

Define the transition.

Falling, or being forced, into a transition is a disaster waiting to happen.  Successful transitions drive towards an explicit goal.  Transitions should not be for their own sake – they are too costly for that.  Make hard decisions.  Proactively manage your businesses transitions.  Define the value of making the decision and make clear what success looks like.

Create a plan.

Allowing a transition to happen on it’s own is not a strategy.  Define your timeline and approach.  Make a single person responsible, or take responsibility yourself.  Outline milestones and determine how you gauge whether the appropriate progress  is being made.

Don’t let it drag.

Be deliberate and aggressive.  Long transitions are disastrous.  They slow things down, cause confusion, and result in issues.  I’m not recommending that you rush a transition; rather, I’m suggesting that you don’t slow roll it.  Too many people are afraid to drive them to completion – it feels safer to “hedge your bets”. This splits focus between the past and the future. Put your eyes forward and drive towards the vision.  I’d rather fail fast and try again than drag on without success.

Remain flexible.

The value is in the planning, not the plan (I think it was General Patton that said that).  As you navigate the transition, remain open, refine your strategy, and move it forward.  You will learn as you go along.  Don’t be afraid to change.

Communicate & declare success.

Transitions are confusing times, make sure to communicate well throughout. Communicate your plan continuously. Remind people where you are in the process and be ready to declare success.  Make sure that people know when you’ve completed your transition.

[reminder]What other keys have you seen to navigating a transition?  Do you have any good transition stories – either successes or failures that you learned from?[/reminder]




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