Change management is a challenge whether you’re changing yourself, changing others, or changing the world.
It helps to have a change management framework that is easy to learn, easy to apply, and proven in practice.
Change is tough enough without trying to wing it.
The good news is there is no reason to wing it. There are existing change frameworks with long track records of success for changes large and small.
In the book ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community, Jeffrey Hiatt shares a simple framework for change management to improve your success with change and grow your change leadership skills.
To Simplify Change, Use a Framework
My philosophy is to simply the change process so that you can spend more energy on the actual changes in behavior.
Or, to put it another way, avoid “change fatigue” by making change easier by leveraging proven practices for successful change.
Change fatigue is when people get tired of change. Really, people get tired of ineffective change and sloppy change and poorly designed change and change that does not bring expected benefits and there is nothing in place to reinforce or support the change to make ongoing maintenance any easier.
While I’ve seen and tried a lot of different change frameworks at Microsoft over the span of 20+ years, one of the most effective change frameworks I rely on is ADKAR. I find it’s easy to explain, it’s easy to be understood, and it directly addresses key challenges and barriers to change.
ADKAR makes the invisible visible and helps put the big challenges and barriers to change on the table so that you can make change a conscious choice, get intentional and apply a deliberate effort, knowing exactly what kind of resistance you are up against.
What is ADKAR?
The Prosci ADKAR model is a simple model for change management. All change is people change, and the key to people change is “behavior change”.
As you would expect, ADKAR focuses on the how of change so that you can use better strategies and tactics to succeed at change.
The ADKAR change framework consists of 5 elements:
- Awareness – Awareness of what the change is and why it’s important now.
- Desire – Desire to participate and support the change.
- Knowledge – Knowledge of how to change and how to perform effectively in the future.
- Ability – Ability to demonstrate the required change in terms of effective performance.
- Reinforcement – Reinforcement is how you reinforce, support, and strengthen the change.
Here is a description of each element according to Prosci…
Awareness in the ADKAR Model
Here is a summary of the Awareness element in ADKAR based on Awareness – The Prosci ADKAR Model:
- Building awareness as defined within ADKAR means sharing both the nature of the change and answering why this change is necessary.
- It means clearly explaining the business drivers or opportunities that have resulted in the need for change. It also means addressing why a change is needed now and explaining the risk of not changing.
- You succeed at building awareness only when someone says to you, “I understand the nature of the change and why this change is needed.”
See my article Awareness is the First Step of Change.
Desire in the ADKAR Model
Here is a summary of the Desire element in ADKAR based on Desire – The Prosci ADKAR Model:
- Once an individual has an understanding of why a change is needed, the next step in successful change is making a personal decision to support and participate in the change.
- Desire requires a carefully architected change management strategy in order for your changes to succeed.
- You succeed at building desire, when someone says to you, “I will be part of this change.”
See my article Desire to Change.
Knowledge in the ADKAR Model
Here is a summary of the Knowledge element in ADKAR based on Knowledge – The Prosci ADKAR Model:
- While knowledge and ability can seem similar, there can be a very large gap between the two.
- While someone can gain the knowledge about a new skill (the tools needed, the process, the proper technique), it may take much longer for this knowledge to translate into ability in terms of performance.
- From a change management perspective, there are two distinct types of knowledge: 1) The first is knowledge on how to change (what to do during the transition), 2) The second is knowledge on how to perform effectively in the future state (knowledge on the ultimate skills and behaviors needed to support the change).
See my article Knowledge on How to Change.
Ability in the ADKAR Model
Here is a summary of the Ability element in ADKAR based on Ability – The Prosci ADKAR Model:
- Ability is the stage in an individual’s change process where the change actually occurs.
- Ability is defined by an individual demonstrating the required changes such that overall expected performance results are achieved.
- There is often a large gap between knowledge and ability. Ensure that in addition to training to impart knowledge, employees are given sufficient tools for building their own ability. This includes hands-on practice, support from coaches and the availability to network and work with others who have made the change successfully.
See my article Ability to Change.
Reinforcement in the ADKAR Model
Here is a summary of the Reinforcement element in ADKAR based on Reinforcement – The Prosci ADKAR Model:
- While making a change is difficult, sustaining a change can be even more difficult.
- Reinforcement encompasses the mechanisms and approaches so that the new way stays in place. It is a natural tendency to revert back to what we know. In fact, there is research emerging about how the brain functions that suggests it is not just a natural tendency but a physiological tendency.
- As the final building block of successful change, the focus on reinforcement needs to remain strong so that changes are sustained and deliver the expected results over time.
- You only know if a change was successful if you take a step back afterward and see if employees are actually doing their jobs differently.
See my article Reinforcement – How to Reinforce Change.
Get the Book
You can get the ADKAR a Model for Change on Amazon:
ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community by Jeffrey Hiatt
Call to Action
- Read the book ADKAR: A Model for Change so you know how to change yourself and others more effectively.
- Practice each of the elements of the ADKAR model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement.
- Experiment with a change you’ve been struggling with by using the ADKAR model for your personal change.