The Importance of Transition Leadership During Change Management

Change and transition are not the same.

Change is the new set of circumstances or the new situation we desire. Change represents the end result of a successful organizational effort. Examples include creating a new department, changing the organizational structure, moving to a new location, or launching a new product or offering. All of these are significant changes.

Transition, on the other hand, is the set of people-oriented experiences that precede change. If change is about new circumstances, transition is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual adjustments people go through as change is implemented. Change needs to be managed, where transitions need to be led. 

Understanding the difference makes all the difference.

Planning for Organizational Change: Most leaders are relatively adept at planning for change. At the highest level, a change management plan starts with the desired outcome. It then works backward, step by step, to create the necessary preconditions for that outcome. These preconditions are primarily situational and circumstantial. 

Planning for Emotional Transition: Most leaders stop at the change management plan. We know where we currently are (Sunday School), we know where we want to be (small groups), and we have a plan to get there (change management plan). But most likely, without a transition plan, this change would be only partially successful with a wake of bodies behind us. Unlike change management, transition leadership starts with where people are and works forward, step by step, through the process of leaving the past behind, getting through the confusion of change, and emerging with new attitudes, behaviors, and identities. If change is the new circumstance (small groups), transition is the psychological process to get people there. This is incredibly important to understand, as every change ultimately involves and is initiated, experienced, and adopted by people.

Conclusion: Most of us are good at identifying what needs to change. And we’re relatively proficient at developing change management plans. But what separates those who desire change versus those who can lead to change is the ability to see and integrate transition plans. Get this right, and you’ll not only achieve the desired change, but you’ll bring the support of most people along with you.

How can I help?

Helping ministry and marketplace leaders through change, transition, and transformation is why I created Transformation Solutions. Go right now to and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

How Unmanaged Transition Makes Transformation Unmanageable

I believe a primary cause of transformation failure is the lack of people management throughout the journey.

Too often leaders begin a change by instituting a strategy that neglects the psychological and emotional experiences of the people involved. This oversite is catastrophic for any change or transformation effort.

In this new post, I explain the four emotional states of transition that every leader must manage along the transformation journey.

This should only take you 3 minutes to read. I hope it’s helpful as you consider any changes or organizational transformations ahead.

The Difference Between Change and Transformation

3 Minute Read…

Statistics show approximately 80 percent of change efforts fail. That’s a shockingly high percentage of churches and organizations that attempt to improve only to lose. Over time, the consistent failure rate gave birth to many change management techniques and processes, but even with these in place, the rate of success remains relatively unchanged. Why?

I believe the answer is primarily in verbiage.

Words matter. Is it possible that better words would lead to better change metrics? Perhaps.

We tend to interchange words, assuming they have the same, or at least similar, meaning.

This is true for change and transformation. These words are similar and directly connected, but unique in their usage and hopeful outcome. I’d love to define each term first, then discuss when each element is most valuable.

First, some definitions.


Change is what leaders do to make things better. Change typically focuses on past issues and present solutions. Change adjusts current actions, behaviors, and tactics. Some changes are minor, and some more significant. Most change efforts are incremental, affecting a portion of an organization, like a department. Change is vital for organizations and challenging to lead, but alone, making things better isn’t enough to ensure future success.

For example, replacing the sound system in your auditorium, adding breakfast for your volunteer teams, or swapping children’s ministry curriculum are changes. Each change carries the potential to make something better.


If change makes something better, transformation makes a better something. Transformation isn’t simply a more extensive change. Change makes old things better, while transformation replaces the old with the new. Transformation moves from individual behaviors to organizational beliefs, values, and culture. The scope and scale of transformation often disturb and disrupt every process and person within an organization, making transformation further reaching and more complex than change.

Change and transformation are connected, though. Every transformation requires changes, but not all changes are transformational. Transformations require an aligned accumulation of incremental changes pointed in the eventual transformation direction. This distinction is essential as leaders consider the extent of a pending improvement.

For example, on the transformation side, replacing the sound system in your auditorium is a change, but redesigning the entire worship service flow to reach the unchurched community around your church better is a transformation. Swapping children’s curriculum is a change, but moving your children’s ministry model from mostly large group experiences to a relational small group approach is transformational. These adjustments are broader in scope, take more time, and are focused on values, not just actions.

How do you know when to change or transform?

That’s a good question, and one required to be answered by all leaders who desire to remain relevant in their communities and industries. Here are a few considerations.

1.  SCALE: Changes tend to be more incremental. If the adjustment is more broad in scope, a transformation effort is likely. If you need to make something better, it’s a change. If it’s time to make a better thing, you need a transformation.

2.  TIMELINE: While not absolute, transformations take longer due to the broader organizational scope. Changes usually happen within a department or a portion of a team, whereas transformations often disturb every process and person in the organization.

3.  FOCUS: Change aims to modify outward practices, where transformation engages inward principles.

It is only a guess, but I wonder if attempting a change when a transformation is required is the most significant contributing factor to failure? Words do matter when they change our focus and expectation.

Perhaps it’s worth considering.

How can I help?

Helping you change to do something better and transform to become something better is why I created Transformation Solutions. At Transformation Solutions, we help leaders gain traction for organizational transformation.

Go right now to and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

Launch It! What Are You Waiting For?

Hey everyone, this is the full article from the blog. If you want to comment or share, just head on over to

NEW ARTICLE (3 Minute Read):

I recently launched a consulting and coaching company, and I’m a bit embarrassed.

I love launching things, but I tend to HATE the process of launching the thing.

Anyone else?

My struggle is with perfection. I hate the creation work because I never feel fully finished with the project, product, or sermon that needs launching. I dread starting the process because I know the struggle to get it right the first time is real. Perfection is my enemy of done, and therefore my enemy of started, too.

An author friend once mentioned a similar struggle with writing. Her comment unlocked something in me.

Here’s what she said: “Every book begins with a terrible first draft.”

Duh! You know that. I know that, too, but I haven’t always embraced this truth in every aspect of my creating endeavors.

Every single message I preach begins as a bad first draft. I’m usually embarrassed by version one. Luckily, I preach revision five or six. I never preach version one!

Every organizational model change begins as an idea in need of more work and manipulation. It’s never quite right the first time.

This is true for everything we create. Launch perfection is mostly impossible, and that pursuit keeps too many of us from starting.

I’m trying to be better by actively living this out in front of you. At this very moment, I’m starting a consulting and coaching company. I’ve been doing this for years unofficially, but after completing my doctorate in November 2020, I wanted to help more churches in a more official capacity. Hence the beginning of Transformation Solutions.

But to be honest, my instinct was to get everything perfect before starting. I wanted the website to be perfect. The first ebook offering to be perfect. Several blog articles to be scheduled without a single typo. So I began the pursuit of launching perfection – until I realize this path would never lead to a launch. Transformation Solutions would never exist if it required complete perfection before launch.

So in February, I just began.

Since the launch, I’ve met over Zoom with several churches to present the Lasting Change Framework. The presentation wasn’t perfect at my first presentation. I changed it for the second and again for the third. The presentation has evolved to iteration six at this point. I want to meet again with those first few churches and ask for a “redo.” But I also know the only way to get it right is to get started. The path to version six is to have a lousy version one.

So welcome to my imperfect company — Transformation Solutions. We help churches discern what needs to change and coach pastors through the challenge of change. And I should add, “as I am changing, too.” That is the secret, I think. Just get started and allow the course to correct as you move forward. After all, it’s impossible to course correct a ship still tied to the dock.

I imagine you have things that need starting, too. I bet you are ready to launch something or fix something or try something. You are itching to make something better.

So just start.

You aren’t ready. You don’t have enough information or all the answer. Me either.


Starting is the best way to get it right. Please don’t wait for the perfect product. Start the process and allow the product to become perfect in time.

Like Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

The Devastation of Innovation

Did you have a Palm Pilot? I did, and I thought I was pretty cool carrying around a handheld device that kept my calendar and contacts. In 1997, the Palm Pilot innovation wreaked havoc on several industries. A few years later, the smartphone did the same to Palm Pilot. The rate of innovation is staggering, giving us all a choice: Innovate and keep up or allow the innovations of others to leave us behind. That’s the devastation of innovation.

In this post, I talk more about the devastating effects of innovation and provide some innovative opportunities for church leaders.

Thanks for giving it a read and passing it along.

How can I help?
Getting better through change and innovation is why I created Transformation Solutions. At Transformation Solutions, we help churches discern what needs to change and coach pastors through the challenge of change. If you are ready to get better, I’d love to support you and your church through the process of evaluation and execution.

Go right now to and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

The Four States of Transition Management

Leaders often mistake change and transition. They are not the same. In this post, I discuss the difference between the two and provide insight into managing the emotional and psychological transitions experienced by the people involved in the change.

The One Insight That Makes Change Happen


Hey again.

I came across this quote from Jeff Igor’s book “Leading Major Change in Your Ministry” while doing my doctoral studies. It caused me to think… a lot.

“Foundational to helping people through major change is this seminal idea: change is different than transition. Change is the new circumstances introduced into organizational life, i.e., a new staffing plan going into effect on a specific date. Transition, on the other hand, is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual adjustments people go through when change is implemented.”

I’m still thinking about it. So much that I decided to write some more about change in light of this concept.

If you can, check it out and leave me a comment to help launch a conversation.