Effective Management of Organisational Transitions with the Bridges Transition Model

In an era where change is the only constant, effective management of organisational transitions is more crucial than ever. Statistically, up to 70% of change initiatives fail due to poor management. William Bridges’s Bridges Transition Model provides a framework for understanding the emotional and psychological transitions that accompany any change. 

This model does not focus merely on the steps required to implement change but on the transition process, which is critical to the success of any change initiative. Understanding and navigating this model can significantly enhance the success rates of organisational changes.

This comprehensive guide will delve into each phase of the Bridges Transition Model and equip you with practical tools you can immediately apply in your work. We will provide real-world examples to illustrate how effectively managing these transitions can lead to successful outcomes, ensuring you walk away with actionable insights.

Ending, Losing, and Letting Go

A prominent change management consultant, William Bridges, introduced his transition model in the early 1980s. He emphasised that transition is different from change. Transition is the internal psychological process that people undergo as they internalise and come to terms with the new situation that change brings about. This distinction is crucial for managing changes effectively in any organisation.


Consider a real-life scenario: a recently acquired company. Employees may fear job loss or changes in corporate culture. The company needs to manage these fears by transparently communicating what is ending, what will remain, and how these changes will affect everyone. This is a perfect example of how the Bridges Transition Model can be applied practically.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Resistance due to uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

Solution: Regular, clear, and empathetic communication about the reasons for the change and what to expect can mitigate fears and resistance. Providing emotional support and counselling can also be beneficial.

The Neutral Zone in Transition

The Neutral Zone, often described metaphorically as ‘the bridge’ between the old and the new, represents a critical but challenging phase in the Bridges Transition Model. During this period, the old ways have ceased to be effective, and the latest methods still need to be fully operational. This phase is uncertain but has significant personal and organisational growth potential.


Imagine a hospital implementing a new electronic health record system. During the transition, many employees need help adapting to the new system, which causes delays and frustration. Although the old paper-based system is no longer in use, the new system still needs to be second nature to the staff.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Low morale and productivity, confusion over new roles or processes.

Solution: Management can foster a supportive environment by acknowledging the difficulties and providing clear, consistent communication and training. Regular updates and an open-door policy for discussing issues can help alleviate stress.

The New Beginning

The final phase of the Bridges Transition Model, “The New Beginning,” marks a period of acceptance and commitment to the new ways. This stage is characterised by renewed energy, innovation, and a more profound sense of purpose among employees as they embrace the change.


A tech company has recently shifted to a fully remote work model. After initial resistance and a challenging transition period, employees appreciate the flexibility and potential for work-life balance. This acceptance leads to increased innovation and collaboration.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Overcoming lingering scepticism about the new changes.

Solution: Highlight and celebrate early wins and successes. Encourage leadership to praise teams and individuals for their adaptability and contributions.

Consolidating Change: Embracing New Beginnings

As we navigate through the stages outlined in the Bridges Transition Model, it becomes evident that managing transitions is not merely about adopting new processes or systems but about guiding people through the psychological journey from ending to new beginnings. This journey is critical to the success of any change initiative. Leaders who understand and empathise with the emotional turmoil associated with change can more effectively steer their organisations towards a successful transition.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding Emotions: Acknowledging and addressing the emotional impacts of change is crucial for reducing resistance and enhancing acceptance.
  • Effective Communication: Consistent and transparent communication throughout all transition phases can prevent misunderstandings and build trust.
  • Empowering Employees: Equipping employees with the right tools, training, and support helps them feel valued and integral to the change process.

We encourage you to apply the Bridges Transition Model within your organisation. Start by assessing your current change management strategies and consider how integrating this model can enhance your approach. Remember, every successful change begins with a well-managed transition.

If you need support with effective organisation management, get in touch.  

Bridges' Transition Model FAQ

How long does each phase of the Bridges Transition Model typically last?

The duration of each phase can vary significantly depending on the nature of the change and the organisation’s culture. There is no set time; flexibility and responsiveness to employee feedback are essential.

Can the Bridges Transition Model be applied to small-scale changes?

Absolutely! This versatile model can be adapted to both small-scale and large-scale changes. The fundamental principles of managing transitions remain the same.

What are the most common mistakes organisations make when managing transitions?

One of the most common mistakes is neglecting the emotional aspects of change, leading to increased resistance and reduced engagement.

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