What is transition?

Filter: Transition

Transition is a process of fundamental and irreversible change in a society’s culture; a change in our views, decisions and the ways we work. It is about social and societal innovation.  Changes that developed unseen now emerge and manifest themselves in our rural and urban built environment, in new regulations, new ways to do things, the New Normal. 

Change is about a specific event, like a change of job, becoming parents, loosing a dear one. When you look at your life's timeline, you can usually pinpoint the exact times of such changes.   

Transition is not as concrete or lineair. Transition rather is the complex process we go through in relation to change. Transition makes you look differently, judge differently, do things differently.  It is a constellation of new and, most of all different ideas, views, values, attitude. Different from the ones  you had before. You literally changed your mind!

It's not the event itself that makes the transition, but the reorientation, the redefining of self.

Prof.Bridges says about transition: Transition is psychologic, change is situational. It is not the event itself that makes the transition, but the re-orientation, the redefining of self, the new insights and values, that make you irreversibly judge differently, and deal diferently, with your body, your habits, your work, your surroundings, the world. 

I like to use Ken Wilber's model to explain what this transition is. At first, internally, at a personal level (picture below, top left), we start the transformation, we change attitude. Then, we start acting upon that new attitude, changed values, new approaches, that new understanding of the world or the economy;  such actions become visible for others in our changed behaviour, externally ( top right). 

Interestingly, at the WE-level, in organisations and society, such changed behaviour inspires others and so the group strat changing, as yet unseen (bottom left in the picture). Once the transition in organisations and society start manifesting themselves, we discover them as emerging new phenomena, regulations, institutions, social enterprises ( bottom right).

Jan Rotmans, with the DRIFT Transition Institute, therefore works on social innovation. Social innovation is often mentioned as the solution for current crises and challenges – but when the complexity of our crises is overlooked, social innovation is at best a partial solution. Therefore, we must focus on transformative social innovation and the cultural, systemic change it fosters.

Barbara van Mierlo, ass.professor Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, at Wageningen UR, describes the interaction processes necssary for this real transition. See picture below. This is all about recurrent interaction between individuals and society and learning curves.