In a world filled with change, it is often not the physical changes we find difficult but rather the emotional 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 is to step into the uncertainty of the Threshold phase: to have the confidence to become the chrysalis (not 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 assembling the pieces of a wooden puzzle.
For example, we now understand how Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber work. But once upon a time, all three were radical, untried new business models. To make these businesses succeed, the 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 all the different parts of their emerging enterprises into the coherent, evolving brands we know today.
Airbnb and Amazon have managed this well. But Uber struggled so much that Travis Kalanick was forced to resign from the company he himself had founded. Consolidation matters.
Achieving Successful Consolidation
Success in this third, Consolidation, phase is about creating alignment. The way you achieve this is with meaning and purpose.
Show your stakeholders (who might be friends, family, customers, employees, investors, …) that progress is being made, and shape what it means to them. Remember that each stakeholder has a different perspective. Schedule frequent wins into your plan and celebrate them as they happen.
Share your plan (appropriately) so that your stakeholders understand how each small step is building towards something greater — something that they care about. Use the plan internally to ensure your team remains focused not just on ‘doing their job’ but on contributing to a greater whole.
Above all, focus on the purpose of what you are building. Being clear about why you are building a new organisation, taking on a new role, or running a new project will enable you and your team to quickly choose between competing priorities and act independently while remaining aligned.
And after you have completed your 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.
Then the cycle of Inner Leadership will begin all over 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 something into a coherent whole? Do you use regular, tailored updates to maintain and build enthusiasm in key stakeholders? Do you use purpose to align your team and enable them to act quickly and independently and remain in alignment?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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