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Transition Leadership


A strong studio maintains momentum with good leadership transitions! Smooth transitions help new leads take confident leaps into their roles and maintain strong relationships with partners, mentors, and faculty.

Output: New leads know their roles, responsibilities, and tasks and are confident moving forward!

Effective ways to transition leadership:

  1. Review the changes in the leadership structure & roles that will make the studio stronger next year.
    • Check out “Reflect and Plan next term” for tips on looking back on the year and planning next term by incorporating member and lead feedback.
  2. Define a transition timeline and plan.
    • Some studios recruit and transition for a whole term while others recruit at the end of the year. Find out what method fits your studio’s timeline and needs. “Find new leads” has suggestions on ways to recruit new leads.
    • Make sure past and new leads meet to align vision and go over responsibilities.
  3. Make role-specific transitions plans/documents so new leads know what to expect.
    • Edit the roles and responsibilities documents you made when you set your leadership structure & roles.
    • Certain roles may require different types of transition. For example, a lead focused on member education may benefit from running one event while a finance lead may benefit from a sit-down meeting.
    • Have current leads add role-specific deadlines, important contacts etc.
  4. Prepare an overview of the resources available to all new leads.
    • Studio contacts and how they support your studio. Ex: Mentors, Community Partners, DFA National
    • Resources: Campus contacts for funding, design process material from DFA National
    • Studio tools: Google Drive, social media passwords, email, slack, etc.
  5. Introduce new leads to important mentors and partners and DFA National.
    • Email your contacts know about the transition. For mentors and partners who are heavily involved, hold a meeting to transition the relationship.
  6. Introduce new leads to the studio.
    • Having a transparent process is crucial to having a healthy studio! Let your studio members know about the new leads and who the members should contact.
  7. Hold a leadership bonding event to get to know each other well and celebrate leads who are leaving!
    • Check out “Celebrate with Studio” for tips on ways to say thanks to leads and celebrate their contribution!

Network Best Practices

Work together on a studio event for past lead to guide new lead like DFA Case Western|CIA

In Spring 2015, DFA Case Western|CIA decided that the best way to transition was for new and past leads to work together on a studio event. This way, the past lead can hand over contacts smoothly and coach the new leads on their work while the new lead learns by doing. At the time, the studio was also building relationships with their innovation center, think[box], so it was crucial that the relationship the past lead had was handed over for the new lead. The leads worked together to plan the final expo!