Transitions: The Neutral Zone

Sophia Lee

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

"Over 80% of reorganizations fail to deliver their full objectives." [1]

[1] p. 55

That line scared the hell out of me to death in June 2021 when transition looked inevitable to me due to financial hardship. I started reading whatever I could.

I had worked too hard to build this company to lose. Ironically, that visceral fear made me spend 💵 on the transition a.k.a. reorg when it was being done because of lack of 💵.

The sad parting as the Ending Zone (Phase 1) was very tough. I lost 10 lb. in the first two weeks. We were severely wounded. Yet, my team made it through the zone.

The real challenge began in the Neutral Zone (Phase 2) as the Bridges warned [2]. "In the neutral zone, people are overloaded, they frequently get mixed signals, and systems are in flux and more unreliable. It is only natural that priorities get confused, information is miscommunicated, and important tasks go undone. It is also natural that with so much uncertainty and frustration, people lose confidence in the organization's future and turnover begins to rise." [2]

That's when we as a team were exposed to all sorts of organizational illnesses. We even had quality issues due to missteps, which is very unusual for us. I can't remember how many hours we spent on Root Cause Analysis and Corrective Action Plans, all of which we initiated on our own, with so much pain and stress. The whole team endured that stage and slowly but steadily figured out the way out of the Neutral Zone.

The golden key that glued us together through the Neutral Zone, while we were falling sick as an organization, was our Transition Observation Group (a 6-person interviewer group) called THREAD.

THREAD members interviewed everyone who was engaged with Culture Flipper then. Every single person. They reached out to both full-time and part-time employees as well as all freelancers who were working with us and reachable by time zone and by language. And that was not inexpensive 💵 and got on hold after 1 round.

The outcome was a round of 1on1 interviews and a Google Sheet of anonymous feedback on the Management (=me, mostly) and what changes they're going through delivered to me, which was then shared in two editions of the transition newsletter called NEEDLE with everyone on the team.

I felt ripped apart in the process. Literally ripped apart. My heart, soul, mind, personality, habits, words, smiles, dignity and ego.

After being shattered into pieces in the Neutral Zone, i.e. the death of me as well as pains via RCA after RCA in the course of 2 years, we started seeing some light. We turned things around in Q3 2023.

We are still crawling through the Neutral Zone, but we see the Beginning Zone (Phase 3) is near.

We will hang in there and make it through the Beginning Zone because we now know how to get out together as a company.

#Transitions #TheNeturalZone #FounderJourney #WeAreCultureFlipper #InsideCF

[1] [2]