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Improve your chance of success in a new position with a 90-day transition plan

The moment you learn that you are in the loop for a new job your onboarding process starts. Not until you are 90 days (or more) into your role does your onboarding or transitioning into the new job and organization end. The first 90 days in a new job will require your full attention and to support a smooth transition we recommend that you build a 90-day transition plan.

The 90-day transition plan is a plan that is designed to help the transitioning leader accelerate into his/her new position.

The plan is a written plan consisting of specific goals, priorities and milestones and can be divided into three underlying plans covering the first 90 days in the new position – in short they include:

1. Plan for first 30 days — the plan includes two sub-plans:

  • Learning plan — here your focus is on building a learning platform that will generate organizational insights and shape the foundation for diagnosing and evaluating the company and organization.

  • Diagnosis plan — here your focus is to diagnose the business situation you are facing, the organization and the product portfolio that you are taking over. The output of the plan is a “diagnosis” enabling a formulation of key priorities and potentially a new strategy.

2. Plan for days 31 to 60 — the plan includes two sub-plans:

  • Early wins plan — based on the outcome of information gathered and dialogues undertaken with key stakeholders in the first 30 days and before, you may already have a general idea of one or two early wins achievable in the first 31 to 60 days. If aligned with the priorities of your director or board, they may prove highly effective and constitute strong potential levers for building personal credibility. You can also use this opportunity to evaluate the first 30 days, plan for the following 30 days and evaluate if you have successfully reached the goals set in your learning plan, and if you have diagnosed and identified potentially impactful early win opportunities. If not, what new plans must be put in place to compensate or refocus.

  • Building momentum plan — here your focus is on building the future strategy for your new company/business unit and a framework for how to generate a motivational platform of change in the organization based on a new direction, strategy, objectives and goals set by you.

3. Plan for days 61 to 90 — the plan includes:

  • Operational excellence plan — here your focus is on building a framework for what capabilities, structures, systems and processes need to be in place in order to execute efficiently on the new strategies, objectives and goals defined by you (and your management team) in the “Building Momentum Plan.” Moreover, you should evaluate the first 90 days and plan for the following period with the objective of ensuring that the “Building Momentum Plan” is on track, and if it is not, consider what new plans and activities are needed in order to move forward.

Heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson, is known for saying among other things:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

When the time comes to enter the company and your new employer, you will immediately find yourself faced with the full scope of reality, and without a doubt, you will encounter numerous surprises that were not listed in your 90-day transition plan. Therefore, it is crucial to remain in planning mode throughout the onboarding process. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything,” as former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said. In this context, it is paramount that you continually seek to revise your original plans and remain sensitive to the dynamic conditions under which the organization will operate. If you do not follow this path, you will most probably lose control and events may very well take you by surprise.


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