When devising the ADKAR model, Jeff Hiatt, settled on the word “desire” as the second element of effective change, rather than motivation. He wrote this was because he considered it to be more inclusive and better represented “the ultimate choice to support and participate in change.”  Key here is the recognition of choice. Thus, unlike all the other elements it is not something you can direct or control.

For instance, while you can create awareness of the need to change, you cannot create the desire to change.  Consequently, when introducing change, you face the dilemma of all marketers: trying to conjure desire to ‘adopt’ and use. Your success or otherwise will ultimately be determined by your ability to engender buy-in and so elicit your people to support and participate in the change. This demands that you know and understand your audience and what drives them.

Hiatt identifies four factors that do this:

  • The nature of the change and how it affects them;
  • The organisational or environmental context;
  • Their personal situation; and
  • Their intrinsic personal motivators.

But, unless you are very hands-on and the change is a small one affecting a small number of people, you are unlikely to know enough about the last two factors to significantly stimulate the response you seek. You can, however, increase your odds.

As any marketing guru will tell you, there are two fundamental types of behavioural drivers. They are psychological and basic variations of the “fight or flight” instinct: toward motivation and away motivation. Perhaps more poetically, you could describe them as “Winning the princess” and “slaying the dragon.”  On the other hand, if you prefer to be more scientific, you could simply call them attraction and repulsion respectively. Both can be strong and whichever prevails will depend on the particular situation and/or the prevailing circumstances.

So to increase your likelihood of success, you need to address both. This is not as difficult as you may think. In fact you have already applied these principles when addressing awareness by covering both the reason for the change (toward motivation) and consequences if you don’t make the change (away motivation.)

Thus, for each of the four factors above, you have to identify and explain the benefits of the change and the consequences of not changing. When you do this, it ultimately doesn’t matter which driver shapes the behaviour of the individual, you will have a stronger chance of driving their desires and delivering a successful change.

However, for each of the four factors above, you must find the right tactics to drive the desire to come along with the change. Clearly these need to provide enough information as to how the change will affect them personally in order that they can form a clear answer to the “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM) question. You thus need to cover such issues as age, financial security, health, carrier path or anything else that affects their personal situation and intrinsic motivators. Remember though, that the organizational context is also important and so you not only need to identify the benefits to the organization, but also the factors that address the confidence and trust your people will have in a successful outcome.

An additional, all-too-often overlooked, factor that you need to consider in building desire for change is social learning: the ability of  people to learn from one another. The power of this is clear from the Ghanaian pineapple farmers case study that we referred to previously, and is highlighted in the subsequent Yale University review of that change.