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  • Writer's pictureAlannah Filip

Leveraging liminality for transformation




Leveraging liminality can be a pivotal moment for re-evaluating cultural norms and identity. Even amidst the backdrop of everyday rituals and subtle etiquettes that shape our daily interactions, these cultural nuances often fade into the background during times of upheaval. Here, a delicate balance between preservation and evolution emerges, prompting reflection on which elements of the past contribute to the core identity and need safeguarding, and which need to be redefined or let go entirely.

 

Further, disruptions in behaviours offer a unique opportunity to bridge any gaps between perception and reality. For example, a company may believe it fosters a culture of innovation, but feedback may indicate a lack of support for new ideas and a fear of failure among staff. Similarly, there may be discrepancies between how managers perceive their supportiveness and how staff perceive their leadership.

 

By prompting individuals to question existing norms and embrace new possibilities, organisations can harness this period of transition to inform strategic decision-making. The insights gathered serve as a compass, guiding leaders to enact meaningful and lasting transformations that resonate with the evolving needs of the organisation and its members while remaining grounded in its roots.

 

The power of co-creation

While transition periods are often personal and reflective, anthropology takes a holistic approach to understanding societies and emphasises the value of collective wisdom and cultural perspectives.

Rather than relying on top-down directives, it presents an opportunity for individuals and organisations to actively participate in shaping the future together, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment.

 

Maintaining transparency

While the idea of embracing change might sound straightforward in theory, the reality is often far more complex. It's rarely easy or comfortable, and there will be moments of doubt, frustration, and even fear.  However, the key lies not in dismissing any resistance, but in understanding and addressing it proactively. It's crucial to create a space where individuals feel safe expressing their concerns and uncertainties openly, while also being honest about the challenges that lie ahead.

 

Ultimately, embracing change is not about blindly jumping into the unknown but about facing it with honesty, resilience, and a willingness to learn and grow. By framing the process upfront, acknowledging the challenges, and taking proactive steps to address resistance, organisations can create an environment where individuals feel empowered to navigate these periods.

 

Some ways to help with getting the most out of these special periods are:


  • Acknowledging the in-between:  While change projects often aim to provide a clear roadmap, it’s important to accept that ambiguity is an inherent part of the change. Embracing this uncertainty creates flexibility and openness as it encourages individuals to adapt and respond creatively to unexpected situations.

 

  • Encouraging dialogue: Create opportunities for meaningful collaboration. Encourage the formation of support networks among employees going through the same changes. These communities offer a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and shared experiences, making the liminal phase less daunting. This period is fertile ground for innovation and experimentation, where employees are empowered to explore new ideas and challenge existing paradigms together.

 

  • Celebrating Progress:  Recognise and celebrate small victories along the change journey. Acknowledging achievements in the liminal space motivates employees and reinforces the positive aspects of transformation.

 

  • Creating clarity in the process:  Keep employees informed about the process, goals, and what they can expect as they move through the liminal space. For instance, with an office move hosting regular town hall meetings or providing frequent updates via internal communication channels can help dispel rumours, alleviate concerns, and build trust among employees during periods of uncertainty.

 

Conclusion

Applying the liminality lens to change looks at the process and journey rather than just the end state. By embracing the liminal space, organisations can unlock profound insights that drive transformative growth and foster resilience. As organisations embark on their journeys, it’s essential to recognise that transitions are inherently fleeting. So, let’s enjoy the ride including any turbulence, and learn to see ambiguity not just as weathering the storm but as harnessing its energy to propel us forward into meaningful change.



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