The ADKAR change management framework is designed to help implement effective change within an organisation. It is particularly useful when considering the people and engagement aspects of implementing change.

Useful in Creating Change

ADKAR Change Model Mutomorro
Download a free ADKAR Model Template

What is the ADKAR change management model?

The ADKAR model is a well-known approach to managing organisational change. It breaks down the change process into five, distinct stages, exploring key considerations for each and how best to implement them. The model takes a slightly different approach to change, as it considers it from the individual’s perspective rather than the organisations.

It was originally developed by Jeff Hiatt, who subsequently founded Prosci in 1994. It is often considered an essential skill for organisational change managers.

How is the ADKAR change model used?

The ADKAR model acts as a framework or template for implementing business change – with a particular focus on staff empowerment, training, communication and readiness. Prosci offer a range of training options and currently charge around £5,000 for their 3 day, online course. If you’re not quite ready to spend that kind of money becoming ADKAR certificated, you can still use the model as a valuable framework to help you navigate change.

The model’s a useful starting point for developing a robust, people-centred approach to your change programme. It follows a logical, five step process from conception and communication through to implementation and monitoring.

As with all models, it’s useful as a starting point which can then be adapted and added to. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t cover the early stages of a change management programme (Prosci might disagree with us there) including defining the need for change and any research/analysis for business change maturity. It also assumes there’s a considered change strategy in place to support the process!

Uses for the ADKAR model

There’s a whole bunch of ways you can use the model – even if you don’t follow it verbatim. When we work in change management environments we often use it as a simple checklist to help our clients run through key considerations.

  • As a template to develop your organisational change programme.
  • As a blueprint for analysing change-related training needs and skill gaps.
  • As a best-practice guide to help avoid common pitfalls during the change process.
  • As a stress-test for your current organisational change approach.

How to use the ADKAR Change Management Model

The ADKAR model is broken down into 5 stages, each with its own considerations and focus. Below is a step-by-step guide to the five stages.

The 5 stages of the ADKAR model

The five stages of the ADKAR model are designed to be followed in sequence and offer a route map of actions and considerations as you prepare an organisation for change and implement it.

ADKAR Model for Organisational Change Management

The five stages are:

  1. Awareness – explaining the need for change
  2. Desire – gauging the desire for change
  3. Knowledge – building the skills to make the change
  4. Ability – supporting the business through change
  5. Reinforce – Building on the change and embedding it.

1. Awareness – ADKAR Model

The initial stage of the model is focused on building awareness in the business about the need for change, the potential benefits and the expected outcome. It’s a way of building a picture for the organisation about what the change is intended to do. Developing a compelling “reason to change” and supporting that with a thoughtful change narrative.

Stage 1. Awareness of the ADKAR model

This stage should be focused on creating dialogue with the business, rather than broadcast. It’s about opening up channels of communication and designing ways to listen to what’s being said. It’s an opportunity to consider the change impact and ensure you’re listening to what teams are saying and the impact the change may have. People closest to the work will know best how it will affect them (directly and indirectly) and likely have ideas on how best to lessen that impact.

Announce: Announce change early to employees in a considered and deliberate way. Give them context, content and relevant information.

Explain: Explain the reasons behind the change, pain points and expected ROI. Make it relevant to them. There are practical and emotive reasons for change – great change stories include both.

Give: Give everyone a chance to feedback, ask questions and suggest ideas. This is a chance for open dialogue and questions. It’s essential to document feedback and use this to uncover themes and general sentiment.

2. Desire – ADKAR Model

The Desire stage of the ADKAR model is focused on gauging the appetite and want for change. We use this stage to start understanding where the organisation is in terms of change appetite and receptiveness. Organisational Culture (globally and departmentally) and overall business maturity will play a part in accessing change desire.

Stage 2. Desire of the ADKAR model

This is an opportunity to build the evidence, examples and user cases that will reinforce the change. If teams are concerned with the potential impact it’s useful to work with them to understand their concerns, address them and then use these changes to reinforce the benefits.

This is also the time to start electing the champions or advocates you want to work with to drive the change. A note on choosing champions – it’s not always the loudest voices in the room who will act as effective change champions. Keep an eye out for the well regarded, but potentially more introspective individuals. Converting sceptics can be a much easier process if you enrol a diverse and representative cross-section of champions.

Desire is created by making the change relevant for individuals and teams. It’s about putting the benefits and outcomes in a context they’ll understand and engage with. Avoid broadcast or “just do it” messaging here as it’ll reduce desire and engagement.

Gauge: Gauge the reaction and appetite to change – and do something with the data. You’ll likely see a range of responses and reactions. Understand where the quick wins might be and where there may be obstacles.

Choose: Choose champions and advocates who will help you drive it.

Address: Address concerns and resistance and show willing to listen and make adjustments to your plans in light of this feedback.

3. Knowledge – ADKAR Model

The third stage of the model focuses on building the skills, knowledge and capability into the business. It’s focused on creating readiness in teams through understanding, experimentation and iteration. Change rarely works in a straight line and this is the opportunity to trial, test and make mistakes.

Stage 3. Knowledge of the ADKAR model

It’s useful to think about the mix of activities you’ll need to best deliver the change. Only using standard training (or worse, broadcast presentations) can end up with passive, unengaged staff so it’s worth including a mix of other engagement activities too. Group problem solving, user cases, “what ifs” and micro-learning can all be useful at this stage.

The more relevant you can make training for teams, the more likely it will be to stick. Try to customise on a departmental, situational or need basis. Keep any training or activity specific to that area of the organisation. Give teams a chance to experiment with ways of working differently.

Provide: Provide adequate, relevant and engaging training. Avoid sheep-dip approaches and aim for more immersive, active-learning where participants can learn from relevant, real-life examples.

Fill: Fill skill gaps and address areas of concern. Make it relevant, useful and aligned to workload.

Offer: Offer resources, information and tools to help put the change into action. A change toolkit can be invaluable for managers trying to cascade the change to their teams and departments.

4. Ability – ADKAR Model

Stage 4 is focused on change ability – that means ensuring the organisation is change ready and prepared for the change, and has robust plans in place for any issues. Testing and preparation are key to this stages – and engaging the whole organisation in this process is important.

Stage 4. Ability of the ADKAR model

It’s also a time to look at setting goals for teams and departments. These should be achievable and ideally co-created with the teams to fit in with their existing workload and objectives.

Now is also the time to ensure that any processes which may be impacted and finalised and tested.

Run: Run practice sessions and run-throughs to test with teams and iron out issues.

Set: Set achievable and realistic goals and stagger them through the change.

Adjust: Adjust process and systems accordingly to fit with the change.

5. Reinforcement – ADKAR Model

The final stage of the ADKAR model looks at how to reinforce the change and help with embedding it. This stage is focused on transitioning change from new and novel to business as usual. This means it’s a stage where we’re focussed on monitoring the change process, ironing out any significant issues and supporting the business to embed it fully into the day-to-day.

Stage 5.Reinforcement of the ADKAR model

This stage is a useful time to promote successes and share challenges in an open, constructive way. It’s also important to spot teams or departments who may be struggling or still display a level of resistance to the change.

Monitor: Monitor change at a macro, team and micro level with effective feedback loops. Understand that the metric for success may look different at different times, so account for this in how your design your success criteria.

Reward: Reward engagement in the process with incentives and recognition.

Keep: Keep channels of communication open and share successes and challenges openly.

Summary of the ADKAR Model

The ADKAR model is a useful way of looking at implementing organisational change. Combined with a clear objective and tightly defined need for change it can help to drive the change through the business and increase staff engagement.

Free ADKAR Model PDF Template

You can download a free version of the ADKAR Model I’ve used in this article. Use this PDF template of the ADKAR model below to explore your organisational change plan and put it into action.

Examples of the ADKAR Model

The ADKAR model of Prosci change management is a helpful framework for managing change in organisations. Here, we we’ll explore five outline case studies that give a little context on how to use ADKAR in various situations. If you’d like more information on any of these examples feel free to ask.

Case Study 1: Implementing the ADKAR Model in a Small Business

Implementing change in a small business can be challenging, but with the help of the ADKAR model, it becomes manageable. One such example is a local bookstore that was struggling to keep up with the digital age.

The first step, Awareness, was achieved by discussing the need for an online presence with employees. Then, Desire was stirred by explaining the benefits of an online storefront like increased sales and reach. Knowledge was imparted through training sessions on how to manage the online store. Ability was built by practicing these new skills, and Reinforcement came through regular meetings to discuss progress and address issues. The bookstore eventually saw an increase in sales, proving the effectiveness of the ADKAR change management model.

Case Study 2: Using the ADKAR Model for Organizational Change

In larger organisations, the ADKAR model is equally effective. A multinational corporation wanted to implement a new software system across its branches.

The Awareness stage involved informing employees about the new software and why it was necessary. For Desire, the management offered incentives for early adoption and mastery of the system. Knowledge was provided through comprehensive training programs. Ability was ensured through a phased rollout, allowing employees to get comfortable with the system. Reinforcement was done through regular check-ins and evaluations. The successful implementation of the software across the company was a testament to the effectiveness of the ADKAR model.

Case Study 3: The ADKAR Model in Action in the Technology Sector

In an ever-evolving sector like technology, change is constant. A software development firm wanted to transition from a traditional development approach to Agile.

The Awareness stage involved explaining to the developers why Agile was beneficial. Desire was instilled through discussions about the potential for faster development cycles and improved job satisfaction. Knowledge was imparted through Agile training workshops. Ability was fostered through the creation of Agile teams and practice sprints. Lastly, Reinforcement was done through retrospectives after each sprint. The firm successfully transitioned to Agile, demonstrating the power of the ADKAR change management model in the technology sector.

Case Study 4: The ADKAR Model for Change in Healthcare

Change management is crucial in healthcare, a sector where lives are at stake. A hospital wanted to transition from paper records to a digital system.

Awareness was created by explaining the need for a more efficient and reliable record-keeping system. Desire was generated through demonstrations of the ease and efficiency of the digital system. Knowledge was provided through training on the new system. Ability was built through practice sessions and a gradual transition. Reinforcement was done through regular audits and feedback sessions. The hospital successfully transitioned to the digital system, proving the ADKAR model’s applicability in healthcare.

Case Study 5: The Impact of the ADKAR Model in the Education Sector

In education, change can be a daunting prospect. A school wanted to integrate technology into its teaching methodology.

Awareness was created by discussing the benefits of technology in education with teachers. Desire was built by demonstrating how technology could make teaching more engaging and efficient. Knowledge was provided through training sessions on various educational technology tools. Ability was built through practical assignments and trials. Reinforcement was done through regular reviews and discussions. The successful integration of technology into the school’s teaching methodology highlighted the ADKAR model’s effectiveness in education.

Lessons derived from the case studies

From these case studies, we can derive several lessons about the ADKAR model. First, it is a versatile tool that can be used across various sectors, from small businesses to large corporations, from technology to healthcare and education. Second, it provides a structured and systematic approach to managing change, reducing the uncertainty and resistance often associated with change. Finally, it emphasizes the importance of communication, training, practice, and reinforcement in ensuring the successful implementation of change.

The ADKAR model, with its focus on Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, is indeed an invaluable tool for any organisation looking to manage change effectively. Whether you’re a small business owner, a manager in a multinational corporation, a tech professional, a healthcare provider, or an educator, the ADKAR change management model can help you navigate the choppy waters of change and steer your organisation towards success.


 James Freeman-Gray 

I'm James. A change consultant and organisational development specialist. I've been working in people-centred change for over 15 years. I partner with causes, champions, teams & leaders on projects for social, environmental, technological & human good. If you think I can support in making your change a success, drop me a message. 

Other Change Models

Problem Statement Template

Problem Statement

Creating a problem statement to clearly articulate what you’re going to focus on, what it means for you and how you want to see it resolved.
Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team are a framework that outlines common obstacles that can hinder the success of a team.
Process Mapping

Process Mapping

Process mapping is a method you can use for analysing and understanding processes within a business. It’s a visual way of representing the steps in a process, from the beginning to the end, using a series of symbols and flowchart elements. Think of it as a diagram that shows you how a task is completed, who does what, and what happens next. It’s like having a map for a journey, but instead of finding your way to a holiday destination, you’re navigating through the actions and decisions that make up a piece of work. What is process mapping? Process mapping…

Scroll to Top