Mind Shift – Ownership Over Time

Taking ownership and giving up on ownership are two sides of the same coin. Both takes time to set in. As the transition commences, the incumbent has the maximum knowledge context and confidence. They start off as teachers. The new team members are  students, learning about the eco system, upgrading their skills and getting to terms with the situation.
As the teams pair and share experiences, the relationships become those of peers. The new team builds up confidence and competence over the platform. They are able to tackle complex situations together. Respect increases on both sides.
At some point in this phase, ownership switches. The new team takes more ownership. They are the guardians of the platform now. A good section of the old guard may move on at this phase. However, part of the old team is still around. They play a smaller role now. Perhaps one of a mentor or that of a subject matter expert. This is an awkward phase. As difficult as it is to take ownership, it is equally difficult to give up ownership. These are weeks of great sensitivity. During the initial part of this phase, the incumbent can still make changes to the platform. Fix defects, help on a critical story and so forth. But at some point, the new team needs to take further responsibility.
The pre-final phase is when the incumbent needs to seek permission in case they need to make changes. This is perhaps an even more awkward phase. There is a great chance that incumbent members will lose interest at this stage. It is after all a smack to their ego. Having said that, I have always alluded to the transition having a larger purpose of transformation. The incumbent members should have learnt a lot along the way. Their skills may have  enhanced. Their perspective would certainly have changed.
This transition runs over several months. During this phase, it’s quite possible to see changes in the wider landscape. Business may see reason to change direction on the transition itself. I have seen several instances where a smaller set of the incumbent team continues with the new dispensation for many months and even years post the transition phase. Of course there could be changes to responsibilities and expectations at this juncture. This is not a failure of the transition but a reflection on new business circumstances. The transfer exercise itself must end as a non-event. It should sieve in gracefully from a time bound project into a new order of operations.
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