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 is to step into the uncertainty of the Threshold phase: to have the confidence to become the chrysalis that then becomes the butterfly.
And the third and final stage is called Consolidation.
Consolidation is where we bring the various parts of our vision together into a coherent whole — like the pieces of a wooden puzzle.
For example, we all understand now how Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber work. But once upon a time, all three were radical, untested new business models. “Buying books online? They’ll steal your money!” “Staying with a stranger? 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 managed this well. But Uber struggled so much with Consolidation that its founder, Travis Kalanick, was forced to resign from his own company.
Achieving Successful Consolidation
Success in the Consolidation phase is about creating alignment: integrating the parts to form a whole.
The simplest, most enduring way to achieve this is by defining purpose.
Tell your stakeholders (customers, investors, employees, family) the purpose of what you are working to build and what this means for them.
Share your plans (appropriately) and celebrate successes to remind stakeholders how each small step is building towards something greater.
And use the purpose to ensure your team remains focused not just on their piece of the puzzle but on building a greater whole. Enable them to respond quickly, independently, and in alignment to anything that happens by asking themselves “How can I respond in a way that aligns with and grows the Purpose?”
And then, after you have Consolidated the parts of your vision it will manifested in 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 begins 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 its purpose as a way to align those parts and enable your team to act quickly, independently, and 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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