“You bled with Wallace. Now bleed with me!” Robert the Bruce, Braveheart
All projects have a start date, finish date, and unique results which enable business and organizations to compete at the next level. However, throughout a project life-cycle there will be times when a team member needs to step out of their current role and request someone take over for them. Continued success of a project may depend on what transition planning has been thought of ahead of time.
In Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is mentor to his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi. For ten years Qui-Gon taught Obi-Wan how to be a Jedi while they worked for the Jedi Order. With his dying breath, Qui-Gon provided instructions to Obi-Wan to finish the work that he was leaving unfinished, particularly the work to train Anakin Skywalker to be a Jedi.
Transition planning all starts with the assumption that one team member is leaving and another is staying. Even though it may be unknown who leaves first, the redundancy in skillset can provide the project with assurance that if one team member leaves, there is someone who can finish the remainder of efforts needed. Their ten years together was a transition of knowledge from Master to Apprentice. Although the transition between them was brief, their long history allowed Qui-Gon to entrust Obi-Wan to complete his work.
Also in Episode I, Chancellor Valorum is voted out the Senate and transitions his position and power to Chancellor Palpatine. While this was not a transition that Valorum had initiated on his own, a peaceful exchange of roles and responsibilities is completed and the new Chancellor is able to bring new leadership. Eventually, through the following two films, Palpatine would reorganize the Galactic Senate into the Galactic Empire.
Transition planning can also account for a vote of no confidence in a team resource. This can quickly and peacefully remove a team member in exchange for a more enthusiastic resource with minimal friction. Of course, the risk that comes with a rapid transition is that you may not know what the new resource brings to the project.
In Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Jango Fett and his son Boba Fett are discovered among the Clone Army. The Fett family spent their time together developing and sharpening Boba’s skills as a bounty hunter. Boba spent his entire life to that point following his father, learning to be an assassin. After Jango was killed, Boba took his father’s teachings and grew to become the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy.
Sometimes the transition of tasks and effort is conducted suddenly and without much warning. There may not even be time to have everything neatly prepared. The resource who assumes the workload may be younger and/or less experienced, but opportunity through the transition might allow the resource to blossom and succeed.
Transition planning allows projects to maintain momentum while mitigating some of the inherent risk of having project team members. A true transition allows new resources to gain skills and knowledge from the more experienced members of the team; while the trusted team member can evaluate the new resources.