Book Review: Managing Transitions


Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change
By: William Bridges


I liked this book for the most part. The main concept that the book preached is super simple:
Ending -> Neutral Zone -> Beginning

The book dragged on a bit when Bridges talked through lists of tips, questions, and steps to achieve success in these stages, but for the most part these were useful to reference by picking up the book again, rather than memorizing to regurgitate. He did give some great detailed examples at the beginning and end of the book; I wish there were more examples sprinkled throughout like some of my favorite Malcolm Gladwell books. So here is my summary from the book:

  1. Emotions matter: acknowledge them and show them
    • Especially during change, you can feel fear, anger, surprise, guilt, loneliness, or any number of emotional responses. During change you need to encourage people to feel what they feel and not suppress their reactions. Talk about it. Listen and sympathize. And share back. Change is hard and if you can help those around you feel like they aren’t doing it alone it will be much easier to make it through it.
  2. Sell the problem
    • Change is happening for a reason. Too many times managers and leaders are too focused on the new and “are we there yet”. Your team members are probably a bit behind in accepting it and you need to make sure to spend time on the issue, the why of the change. Only then can people move forward towards the neutral zone and making the transition actually happen… instead of just talking about it.
  3. Change is constant
    • Bridges acknowledged that change often overlaps each other and so having a deliberate end and beginning that happens at the same time for everyone is unlikely. Because of that though, you can encourage innovation and ideas while trying to implement the new change. Of course the something new that is introduced isn’t polished and the best method until you start using it so allow for (and expect) tweaks along the way.

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