Making change work: ADKAR by Prosci

There are many great models out there for designing successful change. We talked about the five colors of change by de Caluwe and Vermaak. Today we are going to talk about ADKAR by Prosci. ADKAR is about managing change as a continuous process and not a one off event. It is about a continuous conversation with people going through the change and empowering them to change. 

Time for change

What does ADKAR mean?

  • Awareness: People need to understand why change is necessary. This is not a one of meeting, but a continuous effort and conversation involving everyone. The purpose is to get people to understand why they need to move from this current state to a new current state.
  • Desire: People need to want to change. They need to see what is in it for them. This is also not a once in a lifetime presentation. It is about a continuous conversation where people have to define themselves what is in it for them. 
  • Knowledge: People need to feel knowledgeable about what is expected of them. They should be able to explain the need for change to their co-workers. If they do not feel this they may start to resist the change.
  • Ability: Apart from knowledge people will also need to feel able to change their own way of working. This means skills, but also tools, procedures, rewards, rules, behavior, definition of success and so on. 
  • Reinforcement: The most important and often forgotten one. You need to make the change stick by celebration of success, repeating certain messages, keep checking whether people still see the other parts of ADKAR and you need to keep looking back on where you came from. 

Why use ADKAR?

What I like about this model is that it gives employees a language in which they can tell you what they are missing in order to change. If they are missing awareness or ability matters a lot in your way of approaching them. With ADKAR they can tell you. This way a lot of the loaded language surrounding resistance and not wanting to change is not an entrenched position, but a legitimate feeling that we can work on together in order to get you what you need.

Certified partners of Prosci also have means to measure progress on each of the letters of ADKAR. 

How to use ADKAR?

You need to design your project before starting the change process by looking at things like stakeholder management, looking at the organizational culture, looking at the awareness and desire side of the change in more detail and set up your project structure.

While managing the change you will need a communication plan, a plan for coaching employees and management alike, a plan for dealing with people who are resisting and you will need to out into action a training plan. 

When you are ready for the reinforcement phase you will need to make change stick by celebration of success, building new rituals and recognizing specific people and groups/teams for their effort in bringing about change. 

When the new current state is reached it is time to look back on what we have learned. You can do this with a retrospective type meeting, by measuring your results and by evaluating your control measures.


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