Sample Agenda- Embracing Transitions and Change

Take a look at the Embracing Transitions and Change Overview.

Sample Agenda: Embracing Transitions and Change

Time Needed:  160-180 minutes
Purpose:  For participants to begin to identify the effects of transition and to assess what is working and what could be done differently
Flipchart/whiteboard for taking notes
Several packages of 3 different colors of sticky notes
Set-up: Free wall space for sticky notes

Session Introduction (10 minutes)

Note: Some of these will not apply if you’re working remotely

  • Welcome to the session
  • Location of the bathrooms
  • Nearest emergency/fire exit
  • Overview of agenda
  • Goals for the session

Select your opening prompt

Here are some questions that have been successfully used for embracing transition and change:

  • Create image of before event/during the transition/after the event.
  • What have I appreciated about the team/person?
  • What does change look like? Transition?
  • What does resistance look like?
  • What makes an effective workplace?
  • Create an image of the team now and in the future.

Starting the Conversation (30 minutes)

2 minutes for instruction
6 minutes for creating images
20 minutes for sharing

Ask participants to quickly find pictures that speak to the prompt:

  • What was it like before (specify event), during (specify event), and after (specify event)? (or alternative selection)

Adjust the prompt to fit a situation the group is collectively experiencing, like before the layoffs, during the layoffs, and after the layoffs. Each piece of blank paper represents one phase of the process.

There are no rules about how participants can go about this part of the process. They can select as few or as many photos as they wish, and assemble them any way they wish on the computer screen in front of them. The only limitation is time; they should finish selecting and arranging their images within six minutes. If the situation you have chosen to address is very emotional or painful for participants, you may need to give them a bit more time to complete their images, but not more than a couple of minutes.

Next, ask participants to share a brief story of their images. Be sure to tell them how long you have planned for everyone to complete this part of the process, so they can get a sense of how much time each person has to share. If there is a lot of emotion around the topic, you may have to add time to this section.

As each person shares, ask participants to listen carefully to each member and notice how people describe what is helpful around transition and what makes it difficult. Allow people to ask clarifying questions such as:

  • Do I understand this correctly? (state understanding)
  • Did you find that helpful or would you describe it differently?

Deepening the Conversation (40 minutes)

Includes 10-minute break

Note: You may need to make some adjustments if you are working remotely. Find out in advance what your conferencing system is capable of.

Ask participants to begin to discuss what they have heard from each other about what is helpful in transitions and things that are not helpful. Some suggested questions include:

  • What did you hear that was helpful in managing the transition?
  • What makes transitions more difficult?
  • What ideas naturally go together?
  • What ideas seem far apart?

As participants are talking, ask them to write things that are helpful on one color of sticky note, and things that are not helpful on another color. If there is mixed opinion about whether something is helpful or not, write it on a third color. Place the sticky notes on the wall in no particular order.

Narrowing the Conversation (30 minutes)

Note: You may need to make some adjustments if you are working remotely. Find out in advance what your conferencing system is capable of.

Ask participants to walk around and look at the sticky notes on the wall. Without talking, have them start to place the notes in categories. Don’t offer any guidelines about how to sort—let the wisdom of the group emerge. Allow people
to move the sticky notes around if the positioning doesn’t make sense to them, even if someone else has put it in a particular place.

When the moving around has stopped, ask people to describe each category. Ask questions such as:

  • What is the common thread between these sticky notes?
  • What do these things have in common?
  • Does the way the categories are set up make sense to everyone?
  • What are the key points?
  • What is important?

Have the group come up with labels for each category. Using these categories, along with anything else they have learned from their discussion, come up with a list of strategies on a flipchart or whiteboard that contribute to making change easier before, during, and after a change event.

Assessing the Conversation (30 minutes)

Includes 10-minute break

Put stars next to each strategy the team is using successfully to work with transition and change. Underline places that could use work. Ask questions such as:

  • What choice can I make today that will impact the future?
  • Are we ready to move to concrete action steps?
  • What moves us toward action?
  • Do we need more information?

Applying the Conversation (30 minutes)

Ask participants to discuss what they can do individually and collectively to make transition easier to manage at work. How can you take things that are important and make them actionable?

Make a list of commitments to be copied for distribution to the group. Ask how they are going to follow up to make sure that the commitments are kept.

Debriefing the Conversation (10 minutes)

The debriefing section is where you help the group pull together everything they have done. It is a critical step and worth every minute invested.

Ask questions such as:

  • Did anything stand out to you about managing transition?
  • Did you gain any insights? What are they?
  • Does this discussion remind you of any other places in your life?
  • Did you notice anything you could easily do to make it easier for someone else?

Closing (5 minutes)

At the end of the session, provide guidance to the participants about how to carry the work forward after the session.


Building Great Teams is also available in a printed version.