Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on May 16, 2018





This book, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, focuses on the leadership of an organization and how they approach sharing the decision of the change with those affected by the change.  With many companies merging, downsizing, in bankruptcy, or closing this book would be a great asset for the leadership teams. History reflects a grim reality when leadership does not effectively share changes in company structure, leadership, or future. For example, many lost jobs, homes, and families. It possibly could have been handled better if leadership had a practical plan for all affected by the changes. Bridges write that the purpose must be clearly explained. Ineffective communication is due to three main reasons: there isn’t a valid purpose behind the change; management decides the people do not need to know the purpose, or the purpose is a shield. (Bridges, Loc 1442-53).

Bridges speak about a neutral zone doing transitional moments. It can be a long, vigorous task, a long walk on the plank, a deep hole, and even a paralyzing moment. People are uncertain of the future, therefore, not able to apply themselves effectively in the present. Fatal attitudes develop and could kill the operation altogether. During these moments, Bridges wrote on creativity is one solution to make it through the neutral zone.  He stated that the task is twofold: the first one must get the people through the transition phase and keep them together; and second, encourage them to be innovative. (Bridges, 1547) This is the mindset and process I have established in the nonprofits tutorial program. We are a tutorial service that works outside the classroom mold using innovative ideas and methods of teaching. Our students have learning challenges and are unable to process the standardize teaching methods. They and their parents are in a neutral zone. The past teaching methods were ineffective, and they are bewildered about the future. We work with the student to understand their way of processing and understanding. We take that information to creatively develop a method of teaching to help them grasp the skills they need. One hundred percent of our students who have completed our program have completed their coursework, moved to the next grade level, were successful on the standardized test, and high school seniors were accepted in the colleges of their choice.

Bridges wrote about creating a transition plan which “outlines the steps and schedule when people will receive information, training, and support they need to make the transition. It identifies the phases of the transition: a ceremony marking the disbanding of a group, the formation of a transition monitoring team, the scheduling of a visit to sites, etc. (Bridges, Loc 1555) I agree with Bridges that there should be a plan of action for how information will be disseminated to those affected by the change. When I read about having a ceremony when disbanding a group, it sounded insensitive, but I realized I hosted a celebration when my group was disbanded. I met with the people in my group and shared with them my next adventure and that management were disbanding the group. I asked them to participate in a group challenge to close out 90% of the group’s old inventory case. If successful, I would cater lunch for the group in my home.  Also, I met with each one of them to assist them in their decision as to which group to request to be reassigned to so they would be successful in the company.

(picture:Celebrating Organization Change)

As a manager, I was known for my ability to motivate my team to perform at their peak and follow my lead. I will say that there’s always one with their AGENDA. They are not a team player. I wonder how Bridges addresses that issue. He spoke of knowing the time to let go.  Can you realistically get everyone on board? He stated that “No renewal can take place, as long as people are holding on to the old ways of doing things and the old attitudes on which those ways are based.” (Bridges, Loc 2030) I would have appreciated him expanding on that in a separate chapter. The flipside is that we as leaders must know when to let go of the old ways to succeed. “Wise leaders, understanding that example is the most powerful tool they can employ, start with themselves: ‘What part of my identity—of the way I come across, and even the way I experience myself—do I need to let go of if we are going to enter the Path of Renewal?’” (Bridges, Loc 2028)

This book is a good reference on how to develop a plan of action when changes are necessary for the success and survival of a company. Roberto Giannicola was a facilitator, and he created a PowerPoint to demonstrate how to manage transitions based on Bridges book effectively.  https://www.slideshare.net/rgiannic/william-bridges-managing-transitions  [1]

McKinnion review of the book was pro and con. He stated, “Bridges framework for managing transitions has many strengths, but he also had some critical views.”  His use of the term ‘neutral zone’ was not clearly defined and he should have used a better term ‘ transitional zone’; conflict on the phases of transitions; and he believes that Bridges four phases are out of order. He also stated that he should have discussed the sociological and cultural dimensions of change for an organization. [2]

 In summary, there are some areas that need expanding in Bridge’s view of managing transitions but it is a go starting point and provids points of thought when planning changes with the culture of the company.


[1] Roberto Giannicola Learning and Dev. Consultant – Facilitator Giannicolar@sbcglobal.net www.Giannicola.com. assessed 5/16/18.  Note: PowerPoint found on Linkedin SlideShare.

[2] , Book Review: Managing Transitions by William Bridges, May  2007, accessed 5/16/18, http://www.think-differently.org/2007/05/book-review-managing-transitions-by/

About the Author

Lynda Gittens


  1. Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    Yes Lynda, “wise leaders start with themselves.” So true and so hard to follow.
    I can totally see you as a motivating and inspirational leader. Thank you for your leadership in our cohort. It is so valuable!

    I love this: “Bridges wrote on creativity is one solution to make it through the neutral zone.” Sounds like our very creative God. I often wonder what He was thinking or feeling before He created the world and us. Was he bored, in the neutral zone? Did He long for more companionship? In either case, I really appreciate His creativity as I marvel at His creation around me and in others. Thanks for your personal and enlightening post.

  2. Mary Walker says:

    Lynda, thank you for your personal insights on this. You are a great example of a leader who is thinking about others and the task and not just her own aggrandizement. You alluded to the leader who won’t give the information for several reasons. The elephant in the room is the leader who is so ego-centric that he doesn’t think anybody else can do the job right but him. That is the more difficult part I think. Helping the people who experience all of the various losses is challenging. It takes a humble leader.
    Didn’t we read a book earlier about ‘flight or fight’? What other options do folks have?
    I really loved your story.

  3. Jim Sabella says:

    Lynda, I appreciate your insights on this subject. I’m glad that you highlighted the “neutral zone.” This is one concept in the book that has stuck with me in my thinking after reading the book. The neutral zone can almost be like the 40 years in the wilderness. As a leader it’s easy to think that nothing happens in the neutral zone. But, a lot of critical things happen and opinions formed in the neutral zone. That is one of the spot where real leadership shines through. This shows in the success you had in the tutorial program. Thank you, Lynda.

  4. Kristin Hamilton says:

    Lynda, I love that you describe the struggles of your students as a transition time. What a wonderful way to look at that! The work you are doing is so important!
    I read McKinnon’s review and decided I disagree with him on the name of this important time. I like that Bridges refers to the time as “neutral” because we get to decide what happens there. We choose to sink into the negative aspects or ride the positive opportunities. I don’t think everyone uses that time to actually transition.

  5. Katy Drage Lines says:

    Lynda, I appreciated the way you were able to connect specific examples from the text into your own experiences.
    As you said, “I will say that there’s always one with their AGENDA. They are not a team player. I wonder how Bridges addresses that issue. He spoke of knowing the time to let go. Can you realistically get everyone on board?” There were times in my reading that I recalled Brooks’ The Social Animal, and his thesis that even our rational/logical decisions have emotional components underlying them. The inability to predict how people will emotionally respond to change adds a challenge to guiding folks through the transitions of change.

  6. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    Lynda I agree that growing in change and managing transition begins with the leader first and foremost. I am learning that as I lead my teams through this transition.

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