The Scary Dark Powers of Transitions

The thing about transitions is that they are truly the great in-between.

And we in Acquisition are smack dab in the middle of one.

There’s an old saying that a fox can run only half-way into the woods. After that, he’s running out of the woods, but he doesn’t know when that transition occurs.

That’s us right now. We don’t know how long this transition will last or what it will look like when we’re done, but there’s no going back to how we were before. Too many of us have seen what this transition in Acquisition can mean.

I’ve studied mythology and folklore, and these in-between places—doorways, portals between worlds, thresholds—are scary to most people. These old stories trained us to be wary of the dangers in such transitional spaces, dark by their very nature as things unknown.

Children were warned not to linger in doorways because of what might grab them there and haul them into the Underworld.

Don’t open a door against a nearby wall to form a triangular hidey-hole because the energy inside would swirl and catch and draw you in with dark promises.

Don’t be out at twilight, between day and night, because sinister other things might lure you to your doom.

(I think I’ve heard the same said of Other Transactions, but shhhhhhhhh, don’t speak it now or you might conjure something you cannot banish.)

But at the same time, folklore and tales of magic tell us that people who understood the “Dark Side” knew that these spaces were places of true power. Not that these places were truly dark to those who wanted change, but almost always dark to those who didn’t.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Transition time can be used for deciding how the next phase of life looks and that’s really powerful. You know that when you’re done, things won’t ever be the same.

That doesn’t mean it’s a peaceful time or that it’s not unsettling, even when you desperately want the change to take place and to super-shorten those lead times.

Speaking of super-short lead times, I’ve given birth twice, both times Rambo-style (pop culture reference of the time), and I always rely on that stage between labor and delivery as reference.

With Spawn #1, there came a point where I was so antsy that I couldn’t stand it. This was above and beyond the pain because I was too fast for drugs. It appeared to my ex that I was indecisive or maybe inept. Did I want my socks on or not? Hold my hand or not? Get the %&@# away from me or come baaaaaaack?

The doctor told me it was all okay, just a sign that I was in the transition stage—no going backward, but nowhere near done yet. Nothing to do but just move through it, knowing that motherhood was on the other side and not yet knowing how my most recent creation would look.

When I was in Labor & Delivery with Spawn #2, I suddenly found myself so antsy I couldn’t stand it. I was trying to get back to a familiar place where there wasn’t so much—what we in Acquisition now call—churn. I’d come too far to turn back. What was wrong with me?! I couldn’t seem to find the ground. I wasn’t sure what to do next. Sometimes I flailed.

That’s when I remembered the first time and proudly announced to the doctor, my ex, the nurse, and the janitor in the hallway, “HEY! I’m in transition!”

So that uncomfortable place we are now? That’s Acquisition in Transition.

How life will look next—the next Epoch of Acquisition—hasn’t settled out yet even though it’s taking shape. We don’t know exactly what the boundaries are, and there’s way too much confusion about widely varying interpretations, and there are NO consistent processes. Eventually, we’ll be more than half-way, and the transition will no longer be focused primarily on creating change but on how the changed world looks.

Meanwhile, come to the Dark Side: we have Other Transactions.



c 2018 Lorna Tedder

Lorna Tedder


  • Rapid Acquisition Consultant
  • Recently retired Contracting Officer, unlimited AFMC warrant 1991-2018
  • Nationally recognized Innovation Thought Leader in Government acquisition
  • Rapid acquisition teacher, both FAR and non-FAR based contracting
  • Master brain-stormer and advisor to program offices across the DoD
  • Expert in developing junior and mid-level personnel to become innovators in Government acquisition
  • 3 decades of first-hand experience and success with Other Transactions, Oral Proposals, 10 USC 2373, Broad Agency Announcements, unique pricing arrangements, Price Based Acquisition, Award Without Discussion, streamlined source selections, multiple award IDIQs, UCAs, waivers, omnibus tool creation, Quick Reaction Capability teams, and strategic sourcing
  • Do you need help? Would you like me to spend a couple of days teaching your Government team how to use innovative contracting methods? Message me on LinkedIn or my contact page.
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