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Bridges' Transition Model

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Transitioning Triumphs: The William Bridges Transitions ModelThe William Bridges Transition Model emerges from the foundational work of William Bridges, a change consultant, whose model has garnered recognition for its insight into the human side of change. This model is not merely theoretical but deeply entrenched in the practical realm, offering a three-stage framework for understanding and navigating the tumultuous waters of change.The modern-day workplace is a hotbed for change, driven by rapid technological advancements, demographic shifts, and social evolution. In such a landscape, the Bridges Transition Model stands as a beacon, illuminating the human journey through change, which often is overshadowed by the organizational focus on the change itself.The Three Phases:Endings: This phase marks the point where individuals begin to grapple with the reality of change. It's a phase characterized by loss, letting go of the old ways, and coming to terms with the end of a certain era.Neutral Zone: The neutral zone is a liminal space where the old has ended, but the new hasn't fully begun. It's a period of confusion, exploration, and potential creativity as individuals and groups navigate through the uncertainties of change.New Beginnings: The final phase is where individuals begin to embrace the new reality, finding their footing and aligning themselves with the new direction.The meticulous delineation of these phases affords a structured yet flexible approach to managing change, offering a lens through which the emotional and psychological journey of individuals can be understood and supported.Now, let's delve deeper into the benefits, applications, and real-world examples of the William Bridges Transition Model, to glean actionable insights for your organizational journey.


The William Bridges Transition Model is a powerful compass in the storm of organizational change. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Human-Centric Approach: By focusing on the human aspect of change, this model facilitates a deeper understanding and better management of the emotional and psychological transitions individuals undergo.

  • Structured Framework: The three-phase framework provides a structured approach to managing change, enabling organizations to plan and execute change initiatives more effectively.

  • Enhanced Communication: Through acknowledging and addressing the human side of change, this model fosters open communication, helping to alleviate anxiety and build a shared understanding of the change journey.

When to use

The William Bridges Transition Model is especially potent in scenarios marked by significant change. Here are some instances where this model is particularly beneficial:

  • Organizational Restructuring: During times of restructuring, individuals face the loss of the known and the uncertainty of the new. This model provides a roadmap to navigate these transitions, ensuring people are supported throughout the journey.

  • Merger and Acquisitions: Mergers and acquisitions are periods fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. The model helps in managing the human transition, ensuring a smoother integration of cultures and operational paradigms.

  • Technology Adoption: The advent of new technology can be unsettling for employees. This model aids in understanding and supporting the human transition, facilitating a smoother adoption process.

Understanding the contextual appropriateness and the nuanced application of this model is key to leveraging its full potential. Let's now explore some real-world examples across different industries to better grasp its practical application.

Case Examples

Healthcare - Embracing Digital Transformation

In a healthcare setup, the introduction of a new digital record-keeping system was met with resistance and anxiety among the staff. The application of the William Bridges Transition Model helped in understanding and addressing the human side of this technological transition. Through acknowledging the endings, navigating the neutral zone, and fostering new beginnings, the healthcare organization was able to transition smoothly to the new digital platform, enhancing operational efficiency and patient care.

Technology - Navigating Company Restructuring

A technology firm facing restructuring utilized the William Bridges Transition Model to support its employees through the change. The structured approach of the model helped in managing the human transition, ensuring open communication, and providing the necessary support, facilitating a smoother restructuring process with minimal disruption.

Non-Profit - Merging for Greater Impact

Two non-profit organizations deciding to merge for enhanced impact and efficiency employed the William Bridges Transition Model to navigate the human side of the merger. By understanding and supporting the individual transitions, the merged entity was able to create a unified culture and operational synergy, driving greater impact in their community endeavors.

How to introduce the William Bridges Transitions Model

Introducing the William Bridges Transition Model requires a thoughtful approach. Begin by creating awareness about the model, explaining its relevance, and elucidating how it can support individuals and the organization through the change journey...


ChatGPTSample Introduction ScriptIntroducing the William Bridges Transition Model to an organization is a crucial step in preparing individuals for change. Here is a script that facilitators can use to introduce the model:"Good morning/afternoon everyone,Today, we are going to talk about a framework that will help us navigate through the changes we are experiencing. It's called the William Bridges Transition Model, and it's all about understanding and managing the human side of change.The model breaks down the process of change into three phases:Endings: This is where we acknowledge the loss of the old ways of doing things.Neutral Zone: This is a phase of uncertainty and confusion, but also a time for creativity and exploration as we transition from the old to the new.New Beginnings: Here, we embrace the new changes and start to see the possibilities they bring.Understanding these phases will help us communicate better, support one another, and navigate through the change together, making the process smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.Let's explore this model in more detail and discuss how we can apply it to our current situation..."

Helpful Facilitator Questions

Facilitating a discussion around the William Bridges Transition Model? Here are ten questions that can help elicit deep insights and personal reflections from your audience:

  1. What endings or losses are you experiencing in the current change?

  2. How are you personally navigating through the neutral zone?

  3. What new beginnings are you anticipating?

  4. What support do you need in each phase of the transition?

  5. How can we communicate better as a team during this transition?

  6. What opportunities for creativity and innovation do you see in the neutral zone?

  7. How can we celebrate the new beginnings together?

  8. What are some actions we can take to support each other through this transition?

  9. How does understanding the human side of change affect your perspective on our current transition?

  10. What steps can we take to ensure

everyone's voices are heard and concerns are addressed during this transition?

Challenges you may Face

Introducing the William Bridges Transition Model in an organization might come with its own set of challenges. Here are some potential hurdles and solutions:

  • Resistance to Change: Individuals might resist acknowledging the endings or embracing the new beginnings.

    • Solution: Create a safe space for open dialogue, allowing individuals to express their concerns and fears.

  • Miscommunication: Misunderstandings may arise, especially during the neutral zone where uncertainty prevails.

    • Solution: Establish clear channels of communication and encourage regular check-ins and updates.

  • Lack of Engagement: Some individuals may disengage from the process if they find it difficult to cope with the change.

    • Solution: Offer support resources, such as counseling or coaching, to help individuals through the transition.

Related Theories

Understanding the William Bridges Transition Model in the broader context of organizational and psychological theories can offer deeper insights. Here are three related theories:

Kübler-Ross Change Curve (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross):

Originating from the field of psychology, this theory outlines the stages of grief, which parallel the emotional journey individuals might experience during organizational change. Like the Bridges model, it emphasizes the human emotional response to change and loss.

Lewin's Change Management Model (Kurt Lewin):

From the realm of organizational development, Lewin's model proposes a three-stage process of unfreezing, changing, and refreezing, akin to the Bridges model's phases of endings, neutral zone, and new beginnings.

ADKAR Model (Jeff Hiatt):

In the organizational behavior sphere, the ADKAR model breaks down the change process into awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement. This sequential approach aligns with the Bridges model's focus on acknowledging and navigating through the emotional and psychological aspects of change.


Reflecting on the theoretical underpinnings of the William Bridges Transition Model can deepen understanding and effective application. Here are ten reflection questions to consider:

  1. How does the concept of endings resonate with your personal experience of change?

  2. In what ways can the neutral zone foster creativity and innovation?

  3. How do new beginnings signify more than just acceptance of change?

  4. How does the model facilitate communication and support during change?

  5. What other theories or models of change resonate with your experience?

  6. How does understanding the human side of change impact your approach to navigating transitions?

  7. In what ways can the model be customized or adapted to fit the unique context of your organization?

  8. How does the model align with or diverge from the organizational culture?

  9. What strategies can be employed to foster engagement and support throughout the transition process?

  10. How can the model be integrated with other change management frameworks or strategies to enhance its effectiveness?


The William Bridges Transition Model opens avenues for a myriad of research inquiries. Here are five research questions to explore:

  1. How does the application of the William Bridges Transition Model impact employee engagement and well-being during organizational change?

  2. In what ways can the model be adapted to different cultural or organizational contexts?

  3. How does the model interact with other change management frameworks in real-world settings?

  4. What are the long-term effects of employing the William Bridges Transition Model on organizational culture and performance?

  5. How can the model be utilized in conjunction with technological tools to facilitate smoother transitions?


Delve deeper into the realm of transitions and change management with these insightful reads:

  1. "Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change" by William Bridges:

    • This seminal work by the creator of the model himself delves into the core concepts of the model, offering a rich exploration of managing transitions in the organizational context.

  2. "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes" by William Bridges:

    • Explore the broader application of transition concepts in personal and professional life, expanding the understanding beyond organizational change.

  3. "Leading Change" by John P. Kotter:

    • Kotter’s eight-step process for managing change complements the Bridges model, offering a broader perspective on organizational change leadership.


The William Bridges Transition Model stands as a profound tool in the toolbox of change management. By delving into the human side of change, it facilitates a more empathetic, understanding, and ultimately, a more successful navigation through the tumultuous waters of organizational change. Its practical framework coupled with its human-centric approach makes it a valuable model for organizations facing change in today's fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape. As you venture into the realms of change, armed with the insights from the William Bridges Transition Model, you are better equipped to navigate the journey, fostering a culture of understanding, support, and shared success.

OD Application

The Bridges Transition Model: Navigating Organizational Change with Grace and Precision

In the dynamic landscape of modern organizations, change is not just inevitable; it's the only constant. From mergers and acquisitions to the introduction of new technologies or shifts in market demands, organizations are in a continual state of flux. While change might be driven by a variety of external or internal forces, the human response to these shifts remains remarkably consistent. Understanding this human response is vital for any organization aiming to navigate change successfully. This is where the Bridges Transition Model comes into play.

Developed by William Bridges, the model doesn't focus on the change itself but rather on the transition – the internal psychological process individuals go through to come to terms with the new situation. Broken down into three stages – Ending, Neutral Zone, and New Beginning – the model offers a deep understanding of the emotions, challenges, and opportunities at each phase.

Well-being: Attending to the Human Side of Organizational Change

Endings: The Start of a Transition Journey

Every transition begins with an ending. This might sound paradoxical, but it's a profound truth. Before individuals can embrace the new, they must first let go of the old. This phase is often accompanied by feelings of loss, denial, fear, and even anger.

From the perspective of organizational culture and social psychology, recognizing and addressing these emotions is essential. The Ending phase is not just about letting go of old routines or processes; it's about individuals letting go of their identities, their roles, and their sense of belonging.

Ethical considerations are also paramount here. Organizations must ensure that the process of letting go is handled with empathy, respect, and fairness. This is especially true in situations involving layoffs or restructurings. The way an organization handles endings sets the tone for future transitions and impacts trust and morale.

The Neutral Zone: Navigating the In-Between

Once the old ways have ended, individuals enter the Neutral Zone, a sort of no man's land between the old and the new. It's a time of confusion, disorientation, but also creativity and innovation. The old structures have collapsed, but the new ones haven't fully formed.

For the well-being of individuals, this phase requires patience and support. It's essential to provide training, resources, and open channels of communication. Encouraging experimentation and allowing for mistakes can also foster a sense of resilience and adaptability.

Prosperity: Aligning Transition with Organizational Goals

New Beginnings: Embracing the Future with Renewed Energy

The final phase of the transition is the New Beginning. It's where individuals start to see the benefits of the change, understand their roles in the new setup, and embrace the future with renewed energy and commitment.

From an organizational performance perspective, this phase is crucial. The New Beginning marks the point where the changes start to yield tangible results, whether it's in terms of increased productivity, market share, or innovation. It's also the phase where the alignment between individual goals and organizational objectives is solidified.

Strategically, organizations should leverage this phase to reinforce the vision behind the change, celebrate early successes, and ensure that the new practices are deeply embedded in the organizational culture.

Strategic Implementation: Maximizing the Benefits of the Bridges Transition Model

Recognizing Individual Variability

While the three stages of the Bridges Transition Model are consistent, individuals might move through them at different paces. Some might linger in the Ending phase, struggling to let go, while others might quickly adapt and look forward to the New Beginning. Recognizing this variability and offering tailored support is vital.

Facilitating Open Communication

Throughout the transition, open communication is key. Whether it's addressing concerns, clarifying doubts, or sharing the vision behind the change, organizations must ensure that there are open channels for dialogue.

Celebrating Milestones

Just as in any journey, celebrating milestones can act as a morale booster. Recognizing and appreciating efforts, even small ones, can go a long way in ensuring a smooth transition.

Observing the Impact of the Bridges Transition Model in Action

The ripples of the Bridges Transition Model are felt across the organization:

  • Individual Level: As individuals navigate through the stages, there's a discernible shift in their attitudes, emotions, and behaviors. From resistance and confusion, they move towards acceptance, understanding, and commitment.

  • Team Level: Teams undergo a transformation, evolving from a state of disarray and uncertainty to a cohesive unit aligned with the new organizational objectives.

  • Organizational Level: The organization as a whole benefits from a smoother transition, reduced resistance, increased engagement, and improved performance.

In conclusion, the Bridges Transition Model, with its focus on the human side of organizational change, offers invaluable insights for leaders and consultants. By understanding the emotions and challenges at each stage of the transition, organizations can navigate change with grace and precision, ensuring not just the well-being of their employees but also driving organizational prosperity.

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