Liminal Space: The Space Between Old and New | The Garage Group

Liminal Space: The Space Between Old and New

Devin Baldridge, Director, Lean Growth, comes to The Garage Group with fourteen years of BigCo experience as a design leader at Procter & Gamble. Within a few minutes of talking with Devin, you’ll quickly realize that what makes him battle-tested isn’t just his experiences transforming existing brands and launching new ones, leveraging Lean Startup and Design Thinking. Get to know Devin by reading his story about a recent personal journey he’s been on, embracing change and thriving in the liminal space of old and new. 

I believe change is good, and a necessary part of development and growth. It is not always easy, and often we find ourselves subject to change versus the initiators of it. Regardless of the circumstances, it is an opportunity to elevate our consciousness and act with intention. Best case scenario, it keeps us in touch and relevant.

There is a moment of change psychologists refer to as the liminal space. If you’re like me, the word “liminal”, was never a part of your vocabulary, but I can assure it is now part of mine! The word “liminal” comes from the latin root, limen, which means threshold or a place of transition. This liminal space refers to a physical, emotional, behavioral, and psychological transition.

The liminal space can be an extremely hard or scary place to experience in periods of change. It is difficult to let go of the old and familiar in exchange for what could be. Even if the old way wasn’t ideal, it was familiar and habitual.

I recently experienced the loss of both parents in a period of less than 18 months. I attribute tremendous pain, stress, heartache, and loss to that period of my life. In crossing through that liminal time, I have also experienced a rebirth of sorts, new family dynamics are forming as we work to determine which traditions and memories to preserve, and where we want to establish new. The liminal space can also be a place of enlightenment and transformation. It can be a space where a new reality can be born. It’s a space where we can finally let go of an approach, a way of being, a role, an identity, or a belief, so that something new can be created.

While liminality can apply to our personal journey of challenge and growth, many BigCo’s are also entering into or find themselves in this liminal space as they strive to maintain relevance in the industries they compete. They are transitioning from an old way of doing things, to a new way of conducting business. They are experiencing degrees of pain and hardship as they transform enabling new entrepreneurial skills, behaviors, and mindsets to emerge.

In a previous job, I experienced first hand the pain of a declining share price, and an organization that recognized change was necessary to be successful again but struggled at times to lean into the change they desired. It was unfamiliar territory; it meant the way work was done needed to change, as well as the roles people played to support it. New reward systems needed to be developed to incentivize new behaviors and mindsets. That company is beginning to see the fruits of these changes, morale is up, and so is the share price. The companies that acknowledge that change is needed, reflect on what is necessary, and create conditions for their desired future state, are stepping out of the liminal space to realize a new level of success.  

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