Introduction - Ingredient 3 - Forming a Transitional Team

. The transitional team is the next ingredient in the transition process that is started in Ingredient 1 (laying a new foundation) and continues through to ingredient 2 (sense of urgency). In fact, the required transitional team, or coalition group, is formed as a result of the recognition of the sense of urgency

. Like all living systems, things start small; a small seed can grow into a giant tree. It is the same in a transitional process - with a pilot group as the "seed"

. But even if the change process starts with one or a few people, it needs to have a critical mass and credibility with the senior management: it has to be powerful in terms of titles, information and expertise, reputations and relationships (formal and informal)

. Usually the coalition will include people outside senior management and, as a result, it operates outside the normal hierarchy. This can have advantages if the existing hierarchy is not working well

. The coalition needs to be representative of the organisation, ie a slice of the organisational genetic code and cross-functional

. It is important that the coalition has the necessary supporting systems to assist decision-making, eg profitability reports, productivity measures, costing systems and good measurement systems

. The sense of urgency can help motivate the coalition. There can be the need to conduct an "off-site retreat" to achieve a shared assessment of the organisation's problems and opportunities, as well as to develop levels of trust and communication

. This coalition must be more than fact-finding and analysing; it must be a decision-making body

. Generally the size of the coalition is related to the size of the organisation; change often starts with 1 or 2 people and grows

. The trimtab factor (maximising leverage) or tugboat ‐ trimtabs are small adjustable flaps that assist in balancing and steadying the motion of the craft in the water or air. The principle of the trimtabs is likened to a large ocean-going ship traveling at high speed through the water. The mass and momentum of such a vessel are enormous, and great force is required to turn its rudder and change the ship's direction. In the past, some large ships had at the trailing edge of the main rudder, another tiny rudder ‐ the trimtab. By exerting a small amount of pressure, one person could easily turn the ship. Thus, the trimtab factor demonstrates how the precise application of a small amount of leverage can produce a powerful effect. This is what the powerful guiding coalition can do, ie act as a trimtab.

(source: Dudley Lynch et al, 1988)

Another way of saying this is that organisations are not like sailing yachts. Rather they are more like aircraft carriers - they take a long time to turn around!!!!!

Like a tugboat (transitional team) manoeuvering a large ship (the organisation) (see below diagram)


Another way of looking at this is transitional teams are like the small hinges on a large door, ie the small hinges can swing the large door. The door is equivalent to the organisation, ie the transitional team can swing the organisation.


. In other words,

" one group can become a microcosm for shifting a larger whole..."

Peter Senge et al, 2005

Thus transitional team needs to include people with credibility and influence as they can make-or-break the change process. The support of these key people is pivotal in any change process, ie
"...Regardless of position and hierarchy, they will take your influence beyond your own direct interactions. They go before you in positioning your proposal, behind you in reinforcing it, and beside you in influencing a wider sphere, and they take it beyond the could access alone......Used to build consensus in a way the majority......accept..."
Rebecca Newton, 2019

As they will help build consensus, their active endorsement of change is essential for influencing the receptivity of others in the organisation.

Research indicates important factors in their influence:

- size and governance of group
- extent of congruence among group members and change sponsors
- clarity of goals and selection of effective techniques

"...Influence is like a muscle: if you don't use it, exercising, and condition it, it won't get bigger and stronger..."
Rebecca Newton, 2019

"...our greatest barriers to successfully influencing others can be not taking the time to think about how we currently influence, and how we want to influence. Requires thinking about how we work, not just what we have to do for work. If we are being intentional, we then need to be courageous enough to try out new styles and disciplined in seeking feedback and continuing to adapt..."
Rebecca Newton, 2019

An interesting change team is what Charles Darwin did to sell his ideas on evolution. Darwin did not enter into public debate on his ideas but he had an alliance or "change team" to advocate his theory of evolution. The team consisted of 4 eminent scientists (3 Englishmen and 1 American), ie

 - Charles Lyell (human archaeology and prehistory specialist)
 - Joseph Hooker (botanist)
 - Thomas Henry Huxley (zoologist and comparative anatomist)
 - Asa Gray (US-based botanist)       (source: Janet Browne, 2006)


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