During a recent conversation with a dear friend and respected intellectual we discussed the concept of #Transitional Sciences.  As with most there was a bit of confusion as to how this was different with change and the management thereof.  After a considerable amount of dialog it became clear that we need to start with the basics in order for people to consider the relative importance and depth of the topic.

Step 1 – Why Change?

Change costs money, time and introduces the potential for the risk/reward condition.  Therefore it is imperative that we examine closely, move cautiously and act appropriately.  As in the past we live in a world of change and as a result we sometimes will act based on compulsion and not based upon rational foundations.  The glitz and glamour aside will change meet with value generation or simple serve to keep us in boot step pace with our competition?  These decisions are all a part of the change/act decision.  The very same situation will hold true as it relates to the adoption of a transitional framework.

Step 2 – Why?

The deployment of change is driven by expediency.  As a result we frequently see a “life and drop approach” whereby whatever is about to be implemented is simply put into application.  Relying on hope isn’t the best policy because it sometimes works and other times it doesn’t.  More challenging and daunting change receives the benefit of a plan and the assignment of champions.  Although a bit more organized in terms of things that need to be done they are constantly challenged by culture, tradition and adoption into a much larger established organizational model.  The upshot is unfortunately less then stellar outcomes, unlikely to be a total failure but leaving a lingering bitter taste on this and future projects.

So why adoption a transitional framework model?  First and foremost it is new and unique.  These attributes are not in and of themselves reason except for the fact that it represents a void that needs to be considered worthy of filling.  Secondly transition deals with both the validation of the approach as well as the actual dynamics of operational, psychological and value dynamics.  These elements are relate back to supporting of justifications and to leverage efforts toward success rather than simply replying upon the plan.  A suitable example is if we look at the Agile Manifesto used in the software engineering community.  One of the tenants is “working software over following a plan”, in the transitional science world we prescribe to “achieved value over following a plan”.

Step 3 – When?

Has the risk or the occurrence of less than satisfactory results occurred in which answers are sought.  It is likely that you have attempted planning improvements, champions and even pilot exercises.  These are all good and highly suggested.  However, these help with overall improvements in transitioning changes but they don’t solve the absence of moving operational behavior from present to future state.  While doing a major project for a leading computer manufacture we were faced with a very similar situation, the audience of implementors was doubtful of results any different that what had been experienced previously.  On one hand I wished they had faith, but why should they?  Repeated attempts with a slightly different twist, to which allot was based on solid traditional engineering principals, had failed.  So why was it that they could expect anything different?  What was different was a focus on the effect and not on the methods.  With one simple real life application in which the effect bore evidence of capability what was met with reluctance was now endorsed and became an epidemic of change.

Step 4 – How?

Revelation isn’t always understood, even less adopted or implemented.  In concept the reason why this occurs is the result of coming out of no where and the lack of contextual examples that might be illustrated.  The concept of transitional sciences is revolutionary to the technological and business world.  While it can be applied to almost any element of change one must better understand change itself.  Change comes in many forms;

  • Voluntary Adoption
  • Surprise Introduction
  • Disruptive Circumstance and
  • Evolution.

Each of these will discussed in separate and specifically focused writings, for now consider that change occurs.

Unfortunate change has been encapsulating everything without consideration for whether its the right wrapper to produce success.  In credit, planning is immensely helpful and has saved untold amounts of catastrophic outcomes.  At the same time plans by they very nature are rigid, inflexible, burdensome, not always comprehensive and seem to be subject to a lack of adherence.  It is uncertain whether adherence is the result of the plan, the people or even changing circumstances but even then it still remains a major contributor to value goal attainment.   The concept of a transitional framework envelopes planning by address the question of adaption, adherence, conversion (in both real and intellectual contexts), “Plan B Gates” and Preparation.  Preparation looks beyond the goal to the next horizon.  One such example of next horizon perspective is the close examination of information technology (IT) solutions and scoring their present and future states in order to prepare for goal driven changes.


To illustrate this point lets think about change in your personal life.  There are some changes that are routine and can be dealt with because of experience and repetitive exposure.  However there are some that at first became disruptive that evolved into routine.  There were other changes that were much further reaching such as the purchase of a home or the maturity of a family.  Some of you may have already experience some of these changes, did they turn out okay or did you have to feel your way forward placing trust on elements that were not within you reach of control?  For purposes of this point specifically lets look at the adoption of a cell phone.  Easy to acquire and start using, right?  How deep did you dig into the features and functions of that phone and how long did it take you achieve at least 50% utilization more than superficially?  If you didn’t reach 50% utilization and it took longer than 21 months (average cell phone life) then you paid for excesses.  Was it  your intention to purchase solely on price, ignoring features, or was it unintentional?  A Transitional process would look at the participants, their abilities, interests, goals, aptitudes and the state of technology and drive a program to produce value based outcomes.  Bear in mind that this is simply an example and unlikely that you would do this for a cell phone unless you were driving implementation for thousands or it would be used for a value generating solutions by Mpesa (Kenyan money transfer/bill pay solution).  Upcoming writings will introduce the Transitional Process Framework and how it can be applied to business and IT related change.


#Transitional Process Sciences are about achieving success by consideration and attention to the impact of change without loosing sight on the goals and the means by which change is implemented.  It is purposely intended to be lean (in process), readily adopted by people (not processes), and achieve results without negative time impact.  Stay tuned for more from #3rdLAW.