Orchestrating Your Transition with Experienced Players

orchestrate117Given the maturation of the outsourcing industry, it’s likely that several of your transition team members have already gone through at least one transition. And that they’ve done so – albeit on different teams, even at different companies – can be highly advantageous to your initiative. They fully understand the complex and grueling nature of a transition, know many of the pitfalls you can encounter during the journey, and appreciate the criticality of finely-tuned plans and processes.

However, the fact that they have prior transition experience can, in and of itself, also result in unexpected challenges. Does this sound counterintuitive?

Let’s use the analogy of an orchestra to help explain. The primary responsibilities of an orchestral conductor are to unify the performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, listen critically to and shape the sound of the ensemble, and interpret the music. And although there are many formal rules on how to conduct correctly, others are subjective, and a wide variety of conducting styles exist depending upon the training, sophistication and personality of the conductor.

You – the transition leader – are the conductor of this specific orchestra/transition. You are André Previn, world famous for conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, to name just a few.

The ‘violinists’ on your transition team worked previously under conductor Leonard Bernstein, best known for his long relationship with the New York Philharmonic. The conductor the ‘cellists’ on your transition team worked with was Arthur Fiedler, the long-time conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. And Robert Shaw, of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra fame, was the conductor of the ‘percussionists’ on your transition team.

And therein lies the rub. While a successful transition of course requires top-notch planning and processes, etc., it is highly people-dependent. Indeed, to a large extent, the strength – or weakness – of a transition lies in your internal team. But the people on your team with prior transition experience have preconceived notions of and opinions on how it’s best done. “The governance structure we employed was …” “We handled knowledge transfer by …” “Our timeline for user acceptance training was …” “To document our ‘as is’ processes, we …” “This is how we split responsibilities among team members …” The list can go on and on.

Granted, some of the ideas your team members present – and be assured they will do so – may have some applicability to your unique transition scenario. And you must give them ear time, not only because there may be a valuable gem or two, but also to foster a solid spirit of teamwork.

But at the end of the day, you hold ultimate responsibility for the success of the transition. Thus all team members must follow your plan, your processes and your framework. Your violinists, cellists and percussionists are professionals, and if you ensure everyone on the team is reading from the same full score, not just a chord chart, and you cue them with your baton as frequently as necessary, you’ll be setting the stage to make some beautiful transition music.

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