The ADKAR Change Management Model

We live in a globalized world of continuous change. And, your ability to successfully manage change will allow you to have a positive impact on your work and your life.

What is the ADKAR change management model?

The ADKAR Change Management Model was developed by Jeffery Hiatt, a former employee of Bell Labs, and who is the founder of the acclaimed company Prosci. The letters in ADKAR stand for:

  • Awareness of the need for change.
  • Desire to support the change being sought.
  • Knowledge on how to change.
  • Ability to make the change.
  • Reinforcement to make the change last.

Jeff’s 2006 influential book called ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community suggests that for change to both happen and to last that the people inside the organization must also change.

The model recognizes that in today’s competitive business environment, that company are faced with unprecedented levels of change and disruption and proposes that for change to be successful that efforts must concentrate on change at an individual level. As a result, this model is different from other change management models, in that it is person-centric rather than organization-centric.

How to use the ADKAR change management model to deliver real change within a company?

In this model, individuals play a key role in leading, planning, and implementing critical change projects to help their organizations both survive and succeed.

And, as a manager or change leader, you can use aspects of this model to deliver change.

Constant change is a reality for most companies. And, the awareness stage of this model is all about letting employees know about permanent changes to be introduced well in advance. This way the leader can highlight why change is being introduced, the logic and reasoning behind it (e.g., what is the current source of pain for the company and how it may impact the company in terms of return on investment.

Ensuring that employees have an opportunity to participate within and ask questions about change has become a popular aspect of change management methodologies for companies. While the idea is simple, it’s focused on a “nothing about me, without me” principle in practice and provides clear explanations of why the change must happen. In action, this awareness period is also all about building trust and transparency with employees.

Leaders often report that people might understand why change is needed but getting employees to have a desire to change is another step completely. It is therefore not surprising that building a desire to change is not always easy to do from the ground up. As a result, the leader must work hard at overcoming obstacles and resistance so as to seek out more drivers for change within the company.

From the outset, generating this desire involves establishing how employees are reacting to the changes announced. Next, it is important to identify champions of change and be specific on the benefits received to the company when the change is complete.

The knowledge phase is present to ensure that employees are aware of what employees will need to do once the change takes place. During this stage, the organization seeks to reduce any skills gaps through the provision of targeted training and coaching initiatives.

Knowing is not the same as ability – at least not as typically presented in the ADKAR change management model discussed here. In fact, experienced professionals will know that knowing something is not the same thing as being able to do something.

To illustrate, an employee may know the steps involved in making a sale over the phone but it doesn’t necessarily make them a proficient telesales agent. This phase concentrates on ensuring that the appropriate competencies are developed through the provision of dedicated resources, training, and support processes.

It is important to note, that providing training is not enough to build competencies. Employees need to provide realistic practice runs, and supported environments, where these skills are practiced and valued.

Change never happens overnight or in a vacuum. To bridge the gap, the leader and organization need to monitor the change and use positive feedback to recognize positive improvements within the new system. This reinforcement period also ensures that all employees know that there is no turning back and that the change is permanent as communicated with the awareness phase of this model.

This stage of the process will ensure greater change-resiliency across the organization.


The ADKAR change management model is an excellent way to re-imagine and deliver change by focusing on the key role that individuals play in leading, planning, and implementing critical change projects.

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