ADKAR model of change

Adkar model - ToolsHero

This article explains the ADKAR model, developed by Jeff Hiatt in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful change management tool.

What is the ADKAR model?

Organizational change usually meets with employee resistance. The ADKAR model is a change management tool to help identify why change is difficult and why some changes succeed while others are unsuccessful.

The name ADKAR is an acronym that is based on five building blocks that bring about successful change. The letters stand for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.

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The ADKAR model was developed by Jeff Hiatt in 2003 and it was introduced as a practical tool by Prosci, a renowned change management consultancy and learning centre. The ADKAR model is mainly intended to be a coaching and change management tool to help and assist employees through the change process within organizations.

Awareness building

All five elements of the ADKAR model are sequential. When bringing about change it is important that everyone understands the reason for the change as the natural reaction of employees to change is to resist. This is why people need to be made aware of the need for change.

The precondition for implementing change is sound and extensive knowledge. Learning new skills and steering toward a different behaviour are part of this. After change has been implemented it is necessary that this change is sustained in order to prevent a lapse into former behaviour.

ADKAR change model by Hiatt - toolshero

The five building blocks of the ADKAR model

The ADKAR model outlines the five building blocks to achieve successful change management:

1. Awareness

Employees must be made aware of the need for change.

2. Desire

Employees must have the desire to participate and fully support the change.

3. Knowledge

By gathering knowledge about the change process the (ultimate) goal of the change will become clear for the employees.

4. Ability

Because of the ability to learn new skills and by managing behaviour, change is accepted.

5. Reinforcement

Reinforcement to sustain the change makes it clear for all employees that there is no turning back.

Two dimensions

Change occurs on two dimensions: the organization and the employees. Change can only be successful if the change takes place simultaneously on both dimensions. If stagnation surfaces in one of the building blocks in the ADKAR model, then it is advisable to take action with respect to this element. This targeted approach focuses on the element with the highest chance of success.

The ADKAR model does not just help to determine in advance what steps need to be taken to achieve the right goal, but it also identifies, with the benefit of hindsight, why changes have not been successful. This evaluation is valuable because it can help realize the change after all.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is the ADKAR model applicable in today’s modern economy and organizations? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more suggestions? What are your success factors for applying good change management?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Shah, M. H. (2014). An Application of ADKAR Change Model for the Change Management Competencies of School Heads in Pakistan. Journal of Managerial Sciences, 8(1).
  2. Hiatt, J. M. (2006). ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community. Prosci Learning Center.
  3. Hiatt, J. M. & Creasey, T. J. (2003). Change management: The people side of change. Prosci.

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9 responses to “ADKAR model of change”

  1. Leo says:

    In a theoretical sense, your article, which explains a generic mental process (unless misused), could be complemented with:
    – Tuckman’s model ie stages of group/team development: forming, storming, norming, performing, (“breathing” – to accommodate change)
    – Conflict resolution matrix (or a social-psychopath model), a negative but extremely damaging case of bad management (a person competes with his/her staff, avoids other managers, accommodates superiors, compromises with staff from other work groups, but rarely collaborates)
    – Situational leadership model (Hersey-Blanchard) to match the needs/readiness of individuals,
    – Visual management, which speeds up ADKAR, may help those constantly blamed regain confidence, will reveal those hiding/waiting behind those being blamed, acknowledged actual data and quiet constant conflicts, and beware of bad managers before things change for better.
    – Satir model – as an internal emotional change progression
    – and so on

  2. Yogesh Basole says:

    Good articles. Quite relevant in today’s time as well. Only thing is more example can make it interesting n easy to comprehend

  3. Michael AJ Jordan says:

    I’ve found ADKAR useful as both a planning and an assessment tool, but it is by no means the be-all and end-all of change management, and therefore shouldn’t be promoted as such.

    Further, change managers must be highly skilled communicators, preferably with a good understanding of behavioral psychology.

    I personally prefer Kotter’s 8 steps (which Hiatt based his method on).

  4. Eva Iaccino says:

    Employees would be less resistant to change if they trusted that the change being implemented considered their needs and perspective. Often times change is imposed on teams without having first solicited the team’s real engagement and input. For example, a company decides to change the online web site for customer shopping, order entry and payment. The total focus is on the customer experience. A little bit of the focus was on the back office. When it is time to implement the change, the project team wants to make sure the Finance team is on board and will not resist the change. The problem is that the project team did not properly engage the Finance team in the development of the tool. Change is readily accepted when one feels they had a voice in the tool/ process being changed.

  5. Abdullah Saleh says:

    A concise summary of the Prosci ADKAR model. Exploring the subject in detail, I believe it’s critical to focus on both the Organization as well as People dimensions of the ADKAR model.

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