Building awareness of the need for change

Awareness is the first step to enabling a change. Helping people understand why is thus key to starting a Change Management process, because any change drives people to ask:

  • Why is this change necessary?
  • Why is this change necessary now?
  • What is wrong with what we are doing today?
  • What will happen if we don’t change?

A 2005 study identified the lack of awareness as the main reason for resistance. In over 400 companies involved in the study, employees and managers «wanted to know the business reasons for the change», so they could understand and align.

Source: Jeffrey M. Hiatt – “ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Prosci Learning Center Publications

What is the ADKAR® Model for managing the people side of change?

The ADKAR® Model for Change Management is a tool for individual change developed by Jeff Hiatt, Prosci® founder. The model is a goal-oriented tool that represents the five outcomes a person must achieve in order to deploy change successfully.

ADKAR is an acronym that represents these as the five stages of the individual change process:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate in and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement new skills and behaviours
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

Without individual change there can be no organisational change. To support this personal — then collective — transition, change leaders and practitioners need a framework to introduce change to everyone impacted across the organisation. The ADKAR® Change Management Model provides this framework and is a tool for change managers to plan their Change Management activities, and support both leaders who promote the change and employees who will have to adopt it.


ADKAR®is based on research, like all other Prosci® Change Management tools. That means it’s rooted in change practitioners’ own experience and best practices.

The advantages of using the ADKAR® model for Change Management are:

  1. Leaders and Change Management teams focus on driving individual change
  2. There are clear goals and measurable outcomes
  3. It provides a simple framework for everyone involved in the change
  4. It creates a common language for change managers, leaders and employees

Factors that influence the success of ADKAR®

Effective Change Management and a successful deployment of the ADKAR® Change Management model can be threatened by some individual and organisational factors.

First of all, missing elements of the Awareness-Desire-Knowledge-Ability-Reinforcement model can influence change initiatives:

No Awareness / No Desire

  • Slower adoption
  • Higher turnover
  • Delays in implementation

No Knowledge / No Ability

  • Lower utilisation or incorrect usage of new processes and tools
  • Negative impact on customers
  • Reduced productivity

No Reinforcement

  • Lack of interest
  • Individuals go back to old behaviours

Besides the incorrect application in workplaces, there are also personal factors that can threaten the success of the ADKAR® model.

Awareness can be obscured by factors such as a person’s view or perception of problems or misinformation and rumours about the change.

Desire is influenced by each individual’s situation, perception of the organisational context or personal motivators.

The success of the Knowledge stage can be impacted both by individual learning capabilities and the availability of learning and training resources.

The Ability to implement new skills and behaviours can be influenced by psychological blocks, physical abilities or intellectual capabilities, time and resources available.

The success of Reinforcement can depend on the meaningfulness and specificity of the reinforcement for the individual impacted, the absence of negative consequences, the association of reinforcement with demonstrated progress.

Learn more about this topic in our Big Theme What is Change Management?

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash