Want the Quick View for Your Transition? Try the 4P Method to Start


Part of my mission here at NextCallings.com is to share new insights and methods I'm learning and applying in my work to help my readers have successful transitions. I want this blog to be a cornucopia of tips, tricks, methods, and tools for a reader to refer to when in need.  This post is about the 4P Snapshot for your transition, whether it's in life, business, or both!

The 4P's

The 4P's are: Picture, Purpose, Plan, and Part.  This simple framing of a transition gives a holistic view of a transition and provides a roadmap to navigate through it.  You can follow my suggestions below or use them in a conversation as discussion pieces to explore.  I believe any amount of exploration of these facets of a transition will help make it successful.


The Picture of your transition is kind of similar to the common "Vision" for a business.  However, picture implies a more visceral description or even visual of what the new beginnings and destination is for your upcoming transition.  Whether it's retirement, charging forward with a business transition, or changing jobs, capturing a really clear picture of what it will be is powerful.  Not only for you but for those who have a relationship and a role to play in the transition.  Here are some ideas on how to craft a picture for your transition:

  1. Use the 1 Page --> 1 Paragraph --> 1 sentence (or 2) approach I've discussed in previous posts.  Start with a 1 page, "creative writing" exercise to describe this next stage in your transition and what it looks like in the future.  Then whittle it down, edit, be brutal, so that it's clear, concise, and compelling.  Try to narrow even further to 1 or 2 sentences.
  2. Multi-Dimension Picture: in this approach, you use a table of "categories" of dimensions of your desired transition.  Think of a table with each category across the top of the table (columns) and then versions or variations of each in the rows (down the vertical axis).  Categories like Social, Financial, Environmental, Operational, etc. are good starts but include categories relevant to you and your particular needs.  Be detailed and explicit.  Include specifics like quantities, names, places, clear descriptors, etc. to make it all the more powerful.
  3. A Picture or Collage: perhaps you've seen a picture or group of pictures you could use to describe your own intended Picture for your transition.  I mean a visual of some sort like a webpage, magazine picture, or some other one.  You could use this as the primary focus for your transitions "picture" and perhaps elaborate a little with words.


A clear "why" statement of some sort for your transition will be helpful as a motivational tool, guideline, as well as creating a common foundation for others involved in the transition.  This is really critical for business transitions as well as high stress/emotion family transitions.  If the "why" of your transition is unclear to you and others involved, it will be hard to stay on track and moving in a common direction.  The "why" of transitions binds a group together and focuses the transition efforts in a common direction.

Ways to Approach a Transition Purpose

  1. Write down the values that are driving factors in this transition.  Perhaps this transition is driven by strong family ties or "we value high employee satisfaction".  If the environment or conditions change such that these values are challenged or are triggered for action, clarifying them in writing, especially in a group setting, can help direct future decision making and clarifying the purpose of a transition.  If you've never written down your personal, family, or business values explicitly, it can be challenging, especially in a large group setting.  I specialize in this kind of work so Contact Me for help.
  2. Met and Unmet Expectations - perhaps a transitions purpose lies in expectations being met or unmet.  Perhaps the transition was expected and now must be carried out.  Sometimes though, a transition is required when expectations aren't met.  Perhaps you can't retire now because of a new financial need that's come up like supporting ailing parents or a business deal wasn't closed and so a course correction and business transition is now required.  Writing out these met/unmet expectations can help to draw out the purpose for a life or business transition.
  3. Ask around - a good conversation with someone you trust who can provide perspective is a pretty simple, non-analytical approach to getting to the core of why a transition is happening.


A transition plan can be really simple or thorough, detailed, and integrated.  Think of a plan more as a roadmap for the transition and it can help create that big picture view of how a transition COULD play out.  A Transition plan should have 3 key areas that are covered: Endings, Grey Areas of Uncertainty, and New Beginnings.  Some description of these focus areas can help create a thorough and holistic plan.

Transition Planning

  1. A checklist - some plans can be as simple as a checklist of critical events or "To do's" that should be accounted for and checked off.  This is not only to be certain you have a clear idea of what's needed on the road ahead but also to have a sense of accomplishment as you check them off.
  2. A simple timeline - sometimes its useful to be able to see events play out over time.  This often results in finding dependencies that weren't so obvious or conflicts in sequencing (especially between different parties involved in a transition) that should be resolved. I'm talking about a pretty simple straight horizontal line with hash marks and descriptions of events and milestones along the way.  This can also helping in defining clearer start/ending points as well.
  3. An integrated plan (pictured here) - this is a bit more complicated but essentially if a transition has several categories of work/effort or crosses between different parties concerned with a transition then breaking them into horizontal "swimlanes" with there own timelines, milestones, and lines connecting related events can help to see an even MORE detailed picture of interactions, dependencies, and potential conflicts.  This view can really help to work together across different parties or organizations in a transition and keep everyone working toward a common roadmap.  For more help with planning for a complicated transition, please contact me directly.


Every transition has roles and parts to play and no transition really happens in isolation.  Whether it's a personal life transition or a full business lifecycle transition, the majority of them have several parties involved and it's important to understand the parts everyone play. This is particularly important in business settings where clear roles need to be described but also having a fully inclusive business transition will often be more successful than a non-transparent one.  Each actor in a transition can have a set of responsibilities, roles, and relationships described and agreed to such that they clearly align with the Picture, Purpose, and Plan for the transition.  Transitions themselves are about the people and the organizations they belong to (partnership, family, business or otherwise) and so everyone understanding how they will participate and contribute is critically important.

Clarifying Parts

  1. For business specifically, the Part that employees, managers, and others play can show up in creating Transition Management Teams, Transition Design Teams, Transition Monitoring Teams, etc.. These might sound really formal but they're really there so that the organization can take on a transition as a whole unit and work together for the common picture, purpose, and plan.  Contact me for more help here.
  2. For families - family transitions can be quite enriching and rewarding and don't always have to be dreadful.  I truly believe if planned well and are transparent and inclusive, even the more negative kinds of transitions (healthcare, aging, certain kinds of retirements, divorces, etc.) can be improved on if everyone feels they have a clear part to play and that it's an important one.  This can also help, at a minimum, to frame conversations on who is taking what kinds of responsibilities and commitments.  Alternatively, if no one is clear on what they're to do, things fall apart quickly and misunderstandings/miscommunications abound.  Feel free to contact me for family transition planning as well.

Closing Remarks

The 4P's method is a powerful way to explore an upcoming transition, whether planned or unplanned.  Taking even a few minutes to think about how these 4 areas of a transition fit together will help immensely in my opinion but depending on your needs and the kind of transition, a thorough and detailed transition design and plan can mean the difference between stress, strain, and failure and having a rewarding, enriching, and eventually successful New Beginning.