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Framework #24

Transition States

What does it mean?

By definition, transition is the process (or a period) of changing from one state or condition to another. Within ADL we define ‘Transition States’ specifically as a series of measurable and recognisable change events that can be used to chart the progress of a  transformation journey from the current (start) state to future (end) state.

Transition states share four key characteristics:

  • Core Purpose - should be precise and bounded in order to remove the opportunity for misinterpretation or re-invention and expressed in terms of clear business outcomes with  minimum scope. Each ‘Transition State’ should be ruthlessly bounded to the minimum scope necessary to deliver maximum value against its core purpose
  • Right to Left’ planning – Parkinson’s Law tells us that ‘Work expands to fill the time available’. In the complex and ambiguous reality of multi-dimensional business change, nothing focuses activity and creativity more effectively than an immovable delivery date
  • No ‘Big Bang’ – all options around graduated release, parallel running and non-business critical deployment windows should be explored to avoid a ‘Bet the business’ risk

Why do we believe it’s important?

Working in collaboration with our clients, transformation is normally based on defining and then delivering a desired organisational capability, targeted at increasing operational efficiencies, creating competitive advantage or solving an intractable business problem. Experience has shown that whatever the nature of the transformation, it is best served through a series of distinct Transition States which define the level of change (and new capability) to be demonstrably achieved within an agreed period (normally around 12 weeks).

Invariably transformation has multi-layered dependencies (process, technology, adoption behaviour and external). These are all managed within each Transition State to demonstrate step change progress, identify areas of risk and determine if (or confirm that) the scope and content of the subsequent Transition State is appropriately prioritised, value-add and achievable within the timeframe.

We have found that applying a Transition State management approach is invaluable to help ensure that the priority events of the overall transformation are achieved in the quickest time possible. The approach reassuringly manages stakeholder expectations, provides visible measures of progress and a mechanism for breaking down the daunting challenge of delivery into smaller more manageable components.

The Transition States provide a mechanism to change tack on the direction of delivery if necessary, without compromising the overall vision for achieving the desired outcomes of the transformation.  

How do we put it into practice?

Using a Transition State approach with a FTSE 200 client in the Parcel Delivery business, we were able to break down the Transformation journey into distinct, value-add right-to-left delivery states; where each state demonstrated end-user desired outcome and confirmation that delivery of the end-state vision was on track. We find that business sponsors endorse this approach, as it helps maintain continuous stakeholder support, encourages and increases user engagement, and provides reassurance for necessary ongoing investment.

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