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 about letting go or Separating from the way the world used to be. The second is to step across the uncertainty of the Threshold phase. And the third and final stage is called ‘Consolidation’. This is where we work to bring together the various parts of our original vision and align them into a coherent whole.
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. To succeed, all three founders had to inspire people to Separate from the way they had previously bought books, hotel rooms, and taxis; then convince them to stick with them through the uncertainty of the Threshold growth phase. And finally, like a three-dimensional wooden jigsaw puzzle, they then had 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. Uber struggled and Travis Kalanick was forced to resign from the company he founded. Consolidation matters.
Achieving Successful Consolidation
Success in this third, Consolidation, phase is about creating alignment, through meaning and purpose.
Show your stakeholders that progress is being made and shaping what it means to them. Schedule frequent wins into your plan and celebrate them as they happen. Remember that customers, employees, and investors will all have different perspectives and priorities.
Share your plan (appropriately) so that your stakeholders understand how each small step is building towards something greater. Use the plan to ensure your team remains focused not just on ‘doing their job’ but on contributing to a greater whole.
And above all, focus on the purpose of what you are building. Whether you are starting a new role, running a new project, or building a new organisation, being clear on the purpose for which you are doing it will enable you and your team to quickly choose between competing priorities and act independently yet still remain aligned.
Once you have completed your Consolidation and your vision is complete then — just as Amazon has done — you will need to decide where to take it next. Then the cycle of Inner Leadership will begin all over again: you will centre and ground, make sense of the new situation, find the new opportunities, choose the best, and turn it into an inspiring vision, then 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 purpose to align your team and enable them to act quickly and independently? Do you use regular, tailored updates to maintain and build enthusiasm in key stakeholders?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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