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Rites of Passage

 

Disciplines > Change Management > Creating Change > Rites of Passage

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

When a change is completed, celebrate with a party or some other ritualized recognition of the passing of a key milestone.

You can also start a change with a wake (which is a party that is held to celebrate the life of someone who has died) to symbolize letting go of the past.

Create new rituals to help shift the culture to a new form. Use these, if possible, to replace the rituals that already exist.

Example

When an acquisition begins a change, a ritual celebration is used to mark the passing of the 'old organization', in which the events and heroes of that time are marked out and recognized.

Whenever a training class is completed in a change program, all people on the class are given a certificate by the CEO of the company, who congratulates them on joining the 'new company'.

An airline changes the standard set of greetings that are used with customers, both to symbolize the new approach and also to embody new philosophies.

Discussion

Rituals are symbolic acts to which we attribute significant meaning. A celebration to mark a change is used in many cultures, ranging from rites of passage to manhood for aboriginal tribes to the wedding ceremonies of Christian and other religions. Such ritual passings are often remembered with great nostalgia, and even the remembrance of them becomes ritualized.

Ritual allows people to acknowledge and move on, letting go of a past that has had an emotional tie that may be have been holding them back.

The Christian church replaced many pagan rituals with similar rites. They built churches on pagan sites. Even Christmas was shifted to coincide with the celebration of midwinter.

See also

Repetition principle

 

 

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