Photo by Jaredd Craig

Continuing with our deep dive through the ADKAR model, we come to the third element: knowledge.  As you cannot do anything without knowledge of how to do it this would seem to be obvious. However, when talking about knowledge here, we are actually talking about required knowledge. This is not the same as current knowledge, which is all too easy to assume.

Required knowledge implies a possible shift from the status quo to a different future capability. Any shift means a transition. But before you can make that transition you need to plan, which in turn means you need to:

  1. Understand where you are currently: i.e. assess your present situation and capabilities;
  2. Clarify where you are heading: i.e. envisage your future situation and capabilities; and
  3. Understand what you require to get from a) to b): i.e. ascertain what you need and how to get it.

Jeff Hiatt, didn’t express it in quite the same way when conceiving the ADKAR model. Rather he identified four factors that determine the successful achievement of the knowledge element of the ADKAR model.

  1. The person’s current knowledge base.
  2. The person’s capability to learn.
  3. The resources available to provide the required education and training.
  4. The access to, or existence of, the required knowledge.

Consequently forging the required knowledge – fulfilling the knowledge element of ADKAR – is not a simple matter or a foregone conclusion. Not least because, even once you have stimulated the desire for the person to change, once they are aware of what it will take, they might well lose that desire. Regardless of capabilities, learning (building knowledge) is also a choice and, if a person does not choose to embrace the knowledge-building process, they will not change their behaviour and your change will not be successful.

This, will help you to realize that, while the different elements of ADKAR are logically sequential, they are not necessarily so in practice. They are integrated and thus mutually reinforcing and, for that reason, can be iterative and so need constant reassessment.

Accordingly, for each of the four factors above, you have to monitor and assess the impact on the individual and ensure that it does not destroy their desire to forge the knowledge they – and thus you – need. (The failure to do this properly is the reason that schools experience such high drop-out rates.)

Once again the development of the code of practice for Ghanaian pineapple farmers provides a good insight as to why they were so successful.  As the Yale University study of the case identifies, the degree of social interaction ensured that the farmers learned from one another and thus reinforced their learning and ensured that it became embedded in their new behaviours. You need to do all you can to reinforce collaboration and ensure the required knowledge is established and embedded.