“The only constant in life is change.” – Heraclitus
Before jumping into this article, take a moment to think of the first word or feeling that arises when you read the word change. What is your initial response? Does it feel expansive or restrictive? Perhaps somewhere in between?
We started with this exact question at the MDT Facilitator Peer Forum in June, a virtual space for multidisciplinary team (MDT) facilitators hosted by the four regional children's advocacy centers (RCACs). The responses were wide-ranging: fear, opportunity, exhaustion, innovation, and resistance are just a sampling of what we heard during the forum.
While we know that change and transition are regular occurrences throughout the life of an MDT, we also know that an individual’s response to change is varied and contextual. Change is both tactical and emotional. In this issue, we will explore both components and provide strategies and resources to add to your toolbox. The strategies we share cater to the experience of the Team Facilitator, given their unique role of supporting the MDT as a whole, and the many moving parts that lead to successful outcomes for children. However, everyone can benefit from greater awareness of change and a deeper understanding of your default response to it.
Let’s start with some important definitions. Change refers to the external shift that takes place in a situation and can be initiated by us or imposed upon us by external sources. Transition refers to the internal process that we go through to make change our own – as individuals and as teams. For example, a common change we see on MDTs is team member turnover and the introduction of a new team member. The arrival of the new team member is change, while the process it takes for the team to onboard, adopt, and integrate the new team member is the transition.
Many of you reading this are seeking tactical strategies to address external shifts. Tactical strategies give us a sense of control, they help us feel like we can manage change. However, we are going to start with the emotional side of the work – the transition process –because your initial response to the word change was likely an emotional one. Remember the words opportunity, resistance, innovation, and exhaustion that we spoke of earlier? Our beliefs, feelings, influences, past experiences, and mindset are all wrapped up in the emotional side of change and transition.
William Bridges is an author, speaker and organizational consultant who created the Bridges Transition Model that has been used for more than 30 years to help teams and organizations understand and effectively manage transitions. This model introduces three overlapping phases, defined as endings, neutral zone and new beginnings. It reminds us that it is just as important to honor endings as it is to celebrate the new beginning.