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ADKAR - why it "clicks"
An overview of Prosci's ADKAR Model

Prosci's ADKAR® Model is one of the most widely-requested and sought after models for change management. It is a simple but extraordinarily powerful model to help drive successful change in one's personal or professional life. Many attendees of Prosci's 3-day certification program call it "ADKAR training" - even though the majority of the program focuses on the organizational change management process - because ADKAR is what they remember and begin applying immediately. This tutorial presents five reasons why Prosci's ADKAR Model "clicks" for change management professionals, senior business leaders, managers and supervisors.



Prosci's ADKAR Model is an individual change management model. It outlines the five building blocks of successful change, whether that change occurs at home, in the community or at work. The name "ADKAR" is an acronym based on the five building blocks:

  •   A   Awareness of the need for change
  •   D   Desire to participate and support the change
  •   K   Knowledge on how to change
  •   A   Ability to implement required skills and behaviors
  •   R   Reinforcement to sustain the change.


The five building blocks are sequential. Successful change begins with Awareness. After Awareness comes the personal decision to participate, Desire. Following Desire comes the Knowledge and Ability to make the change. And finally, in order for the change to stay in place, Reinforcement is needed. When a person has all five elements - Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement - he or she has made the change successfully. When a change is not implemented, it is usually because one or more of the five blocks is missing.

Based on experience with thousands of practitioners, the reasons ADKAR seems to "click" and be so easily and readily applicable are:

  • Because it makes sense
  • Because it is easy to learn
  • Because you start seeing change through ADKAR glasses
  • Because it drives action
  • Because, in the end, change happens one person at a time

- ADKAR: A model for change -

  • For a complete description of Prosci's ADKAR Model, including how you can use it to implement successful change, purchase the ADKAR book for only $18.95 - available as a paperback or MP3 download
  • Learn more:
       Table of contents 
  • Interested in deploying ADKAR into your organization? Call +1-970-203-9332 to discuss training and licensing options.


Because it makes sense

Prosci's ADKAR Model is based, fundamentally, on how we as human beings experience change. The origins of the ADKAR Model stem from the model's developer, Prosci CEO and President Jeff Hiatt, asking himself "why do we do that" when presented with a number of change management activities. Why do we communicate? Why do we need to see executives supporting a change? Why do we train people? As the answers to these "whys" became clear, what emerged was the five key building blocks of ADKAR. Prosci then began extensive research to validate and refine the elements of the model that is used today.

If you have ever watched someone make a change successfully in their lives or at their jobs, you have seen ADKAR in action. Think about the first thing someone needs to make a change. The first question that needs to be answered, i.e. the first building block of successful change, is an understanding of why the change is needed in the first place. This stems from our human nature to ask "why" that began when we were two years old. The rest of the model follows this same pattern.


Because it is easy to learn

ADKAR is so easy to learn that many reflect that it "seems like common sense" once they have been exposed to the model. The letters are simple to remember, and the five building blocks become second nature once you are exposed to and apply the model to something meaningful to you. In Prosci's certification program, we begin by applying the model to a change outside of the work setting. This is the fastest way to see the model come to life, and many times that first personal application is what helps solidify the model for someone. Once you have applied it to a non-work change, you can quickly begin applying it to changes going on at work.


Because you start seeing change through ADKAR glasses

Once you've seen one change "through ADKAR glasses", you cannot help yourself. You begin seeing change in terms of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. When you write an email to a colleague, you start to ask yourself: have I provided the information needed to create Awareness of the need for change? When you read the newspaper, you begin evaluating whether a Knowledge effort was preceded by the necessary Awareness and Desire. When you work to make a change in your personal life, you break the change down into the five ADKAR building blocks. Seeing change through "ADKAR glasses" means you have a new perspective on what change requires and what is needed for a change to be successful.


Because it drives action

Some individual models of change are descriptive - they are observations of how an individual navigates a change around them or to them. However, ADKAR is prescriptive - it defines the elements that must be present for a change to be successful. Because of this outcome orientation, ADKAR drives action. It provides a map of what needs to be done to advance a change rather than just describing how someone proceeds through change.

The second half of the book, ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community , is a great example of this results oriented approach. While the first half of the book provides discussions about each of the ADKAR elements, the second half addresses each element from an action standpoint. The chapters eight through twelve of the book are titled: Building Awareness, Creating Desire, Developing Knowledge, Fostering Ability and Reinforcing Change. The text aims to answer the question: how do I drive successful change by securing each building block?

This action-orientation shows up again in the organizational change management process, where ADKAR is used as the targets or goals of change management levers like communication, sponsorship, coaching and training. This is a fundamental shift in thinking - away from "what I do as a change management professional" to "what am I trying to achieve" - as defined by Prosci's ADKAR Model.


Because, in the end, change happens one person at a time

In the end, change happens one person at a time. Even large, complex organizational changes are only successful if the individual - for example Adam, Becky, Charlie, Debby, and so forth - change how they do their day-to-day work. Organizational change is the culmination of many individuals moving from their own current state to their own future state.

Since change happens one person at a time, a model that describes individual change is powerful and necessary for change management practitioners. It is not enough to understand how to make a nice looking newsletter or outline key talking points for a kick-off meeting - you must understand how to support a single individual through change in order to have context and purpose for your change management activities.

In his book on ADKAR, Jeff Hiatt illustrates this point perfectly in the preface. Jeff writes: "The secret to successful change lies beyond the visible and busy activities that surround change. Successful change, at its core, is rooted in something much simpler: How to facilitate change with one person." This is the crux of why an individual change management model like ADKAR is ultimately the cornerstone of any successful change effort in an organization.



Coming up: the rest of this series will look at each of the five ADKAR building blocks in more detail and examine application of Prosci's ADKAR Model in terms of organizational change.




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Ask a Prosci analyst
Order online - secure server Order the Change Management Toolkit or Change Management Pilot for complete change management assessments, templates, guidelines and plans
Order online - secure server Order the definitive book, ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community - available as a paperback or as an MP3 audiobook



Prosci Change Management Certification

Program highlights:
  • Apply the methodology as you learn it on a real project
  • Learn from experienced executive instructors
  • Become part of a change management community
  • Earn 2.4 CEUs, 24 PDUs and 23.5 HRCI recertification credits
  • Walk away with products and course materials worth over $1000

Download the certification program brochure

Upcoming sessions:

  • February 9 - 11: Denver, CO area
  • March 2 - 4: San Francisco, CA area
  • March 16 - 18: Denver, CO area
  • March 23 - 25: Washington, DC area
  • April 13 - 15: Denver, CO area
  • April 20 - 22: Las Vegas, NV area
  • May 18 - 20: Washington, DC area
  • July 13 - 15: Washington, DC area

Visit the certification training page

Email a certification inquiry or call
970-203-9332 to register today.

"The best training class I have had in years. Goes way beyond the strategy and framework and focuses on real world problems and the tools to solve them."
- Jennifer J., April 2009 participant

"This was the most effective and engaging course I've ever taken. I feel that I can truly use this knowledge in my personal and professional life immediately."
- Lisa S., February 2009 participant

"Awesome - truly one of the most beneficial programs I have ever attended - immediate application on the job!"
- Robin S., March 2009 participant

"This program absolutely over-delivered my expectations. I now feel more prepared and better equipped to do my job."
- Paul S., January 2009 participant



Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:


  • Change management certification ($2800)- 3-day program where you bring a project you are working on and apply all of the assessments and tools as you learn them - taught by former fortune 500 executives at locations across the US - includes over $1000 in products, including the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report, the Change Management Toolkit and the Change Management Pilot 2010
  • Train-the-trainer ($3500) - learn how to teach Prosci change management training programs in your organization
  • Onsite training - bring Prosci to your location for 3-day certification programs, 4-6 hour executive briefings, 1-day manager programs or 1-day employee programs - call +1-970-203-9332 for more information

Methodology tools:

  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting Prosci's change management methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB drive)
  • Change Management Pilot Pro 2010 ($449) - online tool including Prosci's change management methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($189) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change (includes 4 copies of the Employee's Survival Guide)
  • PCT Analyzer ($149/$349) - web-based tool for collecting PCT Assessment data, analyzing results, identifying risks and developing action steps

References and books:

  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289 / quantity discounts available) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
  • Change Management: the people side of change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • ADKAR: a model for change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - the definitive work on Prosci's ADKAR® Model
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change ($14.95 / quantity discounts available) - a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change, answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to take charge of change



*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources


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