On a personal level we face abrupt transitions on a regular and recurring basis.  Some are new, others are expected and others a routine.  Our reaction and grace by which we adapt to these changes reflect some of our core capabilities to transition.  Researching the topic there was very little information about transitions that involved abrupt events.  It is for this lack of information that I share with you some of my personal observations and impressions.

As stated previously there are three (3) forms of change that require abrupt transitioning.  These include,

  • New events – those that would be considered as abruptly changing the course of daily life.  IE. new found wealth or an unexpected bill.
  • Expected events – recognized occurrences that take place as a normal course of life or the result of an event where can outcome is possible (probability not withstanding).  IE. birth, marriage, college, death.
  • Routine events – things that occur regularly and while expected have a frequency greater than once in a shortened time frame.  IE. driving to work, buying groceries, fundamental hygiene activities.

Each is influence by the change and also things that are happening surrounding the event.  To illustrate this point take any of the “routine events” and how would these respond to road work, impending significant storms or lack of water service.  I think you would agree that although we address regular change we can be thrown for a loop when it comes to abrupt adaption.  Some people will be totally beset by the confrontation, while others simply call upon alternatives to adjusted rapidly, hardly missing a heartbeat in the process.

When it comes to “expected events” the ability to adapt is driven by the persons attitude toward preparation.  I’m sure that most of you know people that walk through life going from one event to another who deal with the change when it takes place.  Others are living today but planning ahead, to which I submit as being my route of choice.  Not in defense of my position but if I had to deal with an impending future occurrence I would rather have more time to adequately prepare then to wait (whether in a mode of procrastination or denial).

The final form are the new and totally “unexpected event”.  While somewhat like a routine event that is challenged the unexpected is totally and completely new.  As presented by the two examples, new found wealth is more difficult to address than the unexpected bill to which a nest egg would be a plausible resolution to this transitional condition.  New found wealth, as we have heard from stories of people winning the lottery, that waste and exploitation are quite commonplace.   When people think about change and the need for transitioning the ‘unexpected’ are the most risky.

How is YOUR Transitioning Abilities?

Most people would say they do a good job.  In fact most businesses believe that they are quite resilient to change even though they may have suffered through less than stellar transitional performances.  Why is this?

The reason lies in the type of change and our experience in transitioning under these circumstances.

IMPRESSION             REALITY         WHY?

Routine Event                               Good                         Fair              General Inflexibility

Unexpected Event                        Fair                          Good             Common Plan/Project Type

Expected Event                         Excellent                     Fair               Only if Immediate

What tempers these conclusions a bit are people and their personalities relative to change and the transitional response they would chose (or not).  Those that procrastinate will wait until the event, expected/unexpected/routine, and deal with them as the occur.  Even then there could possibly be a lag in attention and its this that drives decision makes up a wall when trying to deal with the management of ever changing business conditions.  There are people who are in perpetual planning mode, anticipating what has occurred, organizing what has and always ready to flip the switch when new events occur.  Unfortunately they too are not without sins, the sin of over preparation.  You might ask, why is this bad?   It really about waste and inefficiency to the extent of over planning, over control that often distorts our vision about value based outcome management.

So What Is the Happy Balance?

The happy balance is having a means where change is treated as a condition.  Those things that are routine should therefor have routine responses to both normal and abnormal conditions.  Routine events are wonderful candidates for the application of learning machine/artificial intelligence model.  While the majority are handled in a normal fashion the abnormal events are used to refine the normal paradigm rule set to address these variations.   The same can also be applied to normal events in so far as operating from a rule based on normal abnormalities in the course of a normal event taking place.

Where we are more apt to apply a more planned and project based approach is for the unexpected events.   If a person (or a company) has routine unexpected events then the approach becomes driven by a higher skill set of people.

Understanding the types of change and our personal (possibly societal in the case of a business) is key to measuring transitional abilities.  If we are in a situation where change, in any of the three categories. is confronting we need to understand that transitioning is going to be clumsy even through it was totally avoidable.  Secondly, if we view change unrealistically as a given and normal event but have done nothing to condition a prudent reaction then we can expect less than desirable outcomes.  Lastly, if were are confused we are most likely ahead of the optimistic because at least we will attempt a more purposeful outcome based response.  Although not totally certain there remains a higher chance of this taking place.

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