In a world filled with change, it is often not the practical changes we find difficult but rather the emotional and psychological letting go of the way the world used to be and the shifting to a new reality. These psychological processes are called transitions and they come in three stages.
The first stage is to let go or Separate from the way the world used to be.
The second stage is to step into the uncertainty of the Threshold phase: to have the confidence to become the chrysalis before it becomes the butterfly.
And the third and final stage is called Consolidation.
Consolidation is where we bring the various parts of our original vision together into a coherent whole — like the different pieces of a wooden puzzle which only form a shape when they combine.
For example, we all understand now how Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber work. But once upon a time, all three were radical, untried new business models. “Buying books online? They’ll steal your money!” “A hotel company with no hotels?! How can that be safe!?”
To make these businesses succeed, all three founders first had to inspire people to Separate from the ways they had previously bought books, hotel rooms, and taxis. Then they needed to convince them to stick with the company through the uncertainty of the Threshold growth phase. And finally they needed to Consolidate and align the different parts of their emerging enterprises to create the coherent, evolving brands we know today.
Airbnb and Amazon have managed this well. But Uber struggled so much with Consolidation that Travis Kalanick, the founder, was forced to resign. Consolidation matters.
Achieving Successful Consolidation
Success in the Consolidation phase is about creating alignment. And the simplest, most enduring way to achieve this is by defining purpose.
Tell your stakeholders (who might be customers, investors, employees, or family) the purpose of what you are building and what this means for them. Remember that each stakeholder will care about different things.
Share your plans (appropriately) and celebrate successes so that important stakeholders understand how each small step is building towards something greater.
Especially internally, use the plan to ensure your team remains focused not just on their part of the puzzle but on building a greater whole. This enables them to respond quickly, independently, and in alignment to anything that happens. Their thinking shifts from “How can I respond in a way that limits the damage?” to “How can I respond in a way that aligns with and grows the Purpose?”
And then, after you have completed the Consolidation your vision will be complete: manifested into the world.
Then — just like Amazon and Airbnb — you will need to decide where to take it next.
And then the cycle of Inner Leadership will begin again as you centre and ground, make sense of the new situation, find the new opportunities, choose the best, turn it into an inspiring vision, and manage the transitions as you work to make that new vision a reality.
Are you working to consolidate parts into a coherent whole? Have you defined the purpose as a way to align your team and enable them to act quickly and independently and remain in alignment? Do you use regular, tailored updates to maintain and build enthusiasm in key stakeholders?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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