What is the Bridges Transition Model?

The Bridges Transition Model is a Tool that helps Companies Face Changes and Seize Opportunities.

  • Its name comes from the Person who conceived it: William Bridges.

 

To do so, it Highlights the Phases through which Changes happen and allows Companies and Individuals to anticipate Future events, taking Advantage of them.

 

It suggests that every Change goes through 3 Stages:

  • Endings.
  • Neutral Zone.
  • New Beginnings.

3 Stages of Bridges' Transition Model

  • 1. Endings: By definition, a Change is always Preceded by an Ending.
    • And the Best way to Face an Ending is to Accept it.

 

  • 2. Neutral Zone: Then, there is a time of Uncertainty.
    • The New is not yet Born and the Old is not completely Dead.

 

  • 3. New Beginnings: Finally, the New is Born and must be fully Embraced.
    • This is when opportunities should be Seized.

 

Bridges’ Transition Model.

 

Although this Tool seems obvious, it can be of great Help.

 

We are humans and therefore imperfect.

It is difficult for us all to Accept New Situations and Accept Uncertainty.

  • We all desire Certainty and end up being “in love” with what we are used to.

 

This Model helps us Remember that we all have to:

  • Learn to say Goodbye to what has come to an End.
  • Accept Uncertainty.
  • Not forget that New Beginnings come, and we can take Advantage of them.

 

Let’s analyze these Stages in more detail with examples:

Endings - First Stage of Bridges' Transition Model

 

The Most Difficult thing to do when a Change occurs is to Accept an End.

  • Accept that you won’t be able to do what you used to do.
  • Accept that you’ll have a New Boss.
  • etc.

 

Ending Example

 

Are you old Enough to Remember the VHS?

  • It is what we had before DVDs for watching movies.

 

Imagine all the Companies that developed VHS Players, Tapes, etc.

  • How do you think they faced its Obsolescence?

 

Do you think it was easy for them to Accept that all the millions they had invested, Facilities, Machines… Had their days counted?

Neutral Zone - Second Stage of Bridges' Transition Model

 

The Problem of the Neutral Zone is the Uncertainty towards New Beginnings.

  • All you can do is not to look back and prepare for a “New Normal”.
  • If the “New Beginning” is not Clear, Prepare for New Opportunities that may come.

 

Neutral Zone Example

 

Do you Remember Minidiscs?

  • Maybe not.

 

In the 90s there was a lot of Uncertainty about what the next big thing would be.

 

The Laser-Disc Technology was already invented, but nobody knew what Audio/Video format would win the final battle.

  • Companies released different Products trying to Test the Market.

 

In the midst of that Uncertainty, SONY released its Minidisc Player/Format.

  • A small Hybrid between CD and a Cassette.

 

We don’t know if They made a lot of money with this Product, but it perfectly Reflects:

  • The Uncertainty of that time.
  • How SONY tried to look for Opportunities.

New Beginnings - Third Stage of Bridges' Transition Model

 

And Finally, the “New Normal” comes. The Company knows How things will be.

  • What will its Operations be like and what New Opportunities it has.
  • What is the position of the Company in the New times to come.

 

New Beginning Example

 

Once DVD emerged as the King in the technological battle, SONY bet heavily on it:

They developed:

  • Video Players.
  • Portable Audio Players.
  • etc.

 

And, most important: The PlayStation 2.

  • A device that could be used to play (obviously) but also, to watch movies.

 

 

Lot of people used the PlayStation 2 as their first DVD player.

  • At Christmas, it was easier to convince your parents to buy you one.

 

Linking the success of SONY’s PlayStation 2 to DVD was a risky move.

  • But they had an Unprecedented Success.

 

In fact, to this day, PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling game console ever.

Now, we’ll see more examples:

Bridges' Transition Model Examples

In order you to understand Why managing Changes is important, and How the Bridges Transition Model can be of great help, we have prepared 2 more examples of 2 Successful Companies that faced Changes.

 

One of them was Successful, but other was Not.

 

Let’s see what we can learn:

Philips - Bridges' Transition Model example

 

Philips was founded in 1891 as a Light-bulb Company.

 

They manufactured the big new thing of that time:

  • Lighting Products.

 

 

They were very successful but, as years passed, lighting technology became more accessible to other companies.

  • And New Companies that developed lighting products started to appeared.

 

In the mid-20th century, Philips realized that they could no longer rely on their Lighting Products.

 

Then, they started manufacturing Home Appliances.

  • Televisions.
  • Hair dryers.
  • Toasters.
  • etc.

 

 

But… What do all these products have in common nowadays?

  • There are lots of competitors.

 

There are hundreds of Chinese companies that manufacture them at very low Prices

  • And, the added Value is limited.
    • A toast tastes the same no matter what toaster you used.

 

Few years ago, Philips realized what they needed to Focus on:

  • Medical Equipment.

 

 

Why:

  • They have expertise.
  • Their Technology adds Value.
  • There are high entry barriers and few competitors.

 

This was and is their New Beginning.

  • They have embraced this decision and… They don’t seem to be looking back.

Kodak - Bridges' Transition Model example

 

Not many years ago, Kodak was one of the most important companies in the World.

 

They controlled practically the entire Camera Market.

  • Specially the Photo Reel Market.

 

 

But, New Digital Technology appeared…

… And Kodak did not assume the End of its Business Model.

 

Curiously, they were the ones that invented the First Digital Camera.

  • But years passed and they didn’t trusted Enough this new Technology.

 

First Digital Camera, invented by Kodak in 1975.

 

We don’t know, to what extent it was possible for them to Adapt completely to this New Technology.

  • But what is certain is that they made a terrible mistake by not betting on it at the right time.

 

We think that, with their Size (at that time) they could have fought Harder.

  • And embrace a New Beginning.

 

Summarizing: What did Kodak make wrong? 

  • They didn’t Assume an Ending Stage.
  • They kept doing what they were already doing.
  • They didn’t take seriously the New Things that were coming.

 

Finally, when the New Beginning arrived for the Entire Market, they were out of it.

  • Even if, partly, they invented it.

Summarizing

The Bridges Transition Model is a Tool that helps Companies Face Changes and Seize Opportunities.

 

It suggests that every Change goes through 3 Stages:

  1. Endings: By definition, a Change is always Preceded by an Ending.
  2. Neutral Zone: Then, there is a time of Uncertainty.
  3. New Beginnings: Finally, the New is Born and must be fully Embraced.

 

This Model helps us Remember that we all have to:

  • Learn to say Goodbye to what has come to an End.
  • Accept Uncertainty.
  • Remember that New Beginnings come, and we can take Advantage of them.

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