(866) 488-9228
Get High Performance
Tips In Your Inbox

Effective Change Management with the ADKAR Model

Author: Angie Fifer, Ph.D., CMPC
Editor: Rachel Bryars

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

Change is Inevitable

One thing that is certain in business no matter the organization: change is both inevitable and necessary for relevancy and growth. However, change is challenging because it is uncomfortable, uncertain, and initially inefficient. The key to successful change is to use a structured, intentional, evidence-based, sequential process to meet objectives and minimize barriers to success.

The Prosci ADKAR Model

A contemporary, very popular, sound approach to change is the “Prosci ADKAR” model.  Its popularity is linked to its simplicity and logical, building block approach. The Prosci methodology creates structure around change and is represented by the acronym ADKAR, which stands for: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. The ADKAR framework focuses on understanding change at the individual level first, and then moves outward to the wider organization increasing the likelihood of success.


The first step in any change process is to create awareness around the need to change, identify the nature of the change itself, and realistically examine the risks of not changing. By answering the “whys” for change, individuals can begin to ask informed questions, complete their own research, and develop an understanding of all aspects of the proposed change. Acceptance of the need to change is influenced by a person’s view of the current state, their cognitive style and problem-solving skills, the credibility of the sender, and the presence of misinformation and rumors. Awareness is easier to create with external and observable factors that people can investigate for themselves.


Desire is a person’s internal motivation and choice to support the change. Desire is influenced by what the change is and the individual impact it will have, one’s perception of their organization, their personal situation, and intrinsic motivators that are unique to an individual. Desire is challenging to create in others because it is a personal choice. All others can do is provide information, rationale, and try to create influence.


There are two types of knowledge in the Prosci model. The first is knowing how to change, and the second is knowing what to do after the change has been enacted. Knowledge includes how to go about implementing a change and includes training and education, detailed information on new processes, systems and tools, and understanding new roles and responsibilities associated with the change. Additionally, factors that influence achievement of knowledge include the current knowledge base of an individual, the capacity a person has to gain new knowledge, resources available for training, and access to the required knowledge.


Ability is a person’s capacity to implement the change and achieve the results. Though related, knowledge does not necessarily predict ability to change. Factors impacting ability include psychological blocks, physical abilities, intellectual capability, the time available to develop necessary skills, and the availability of resources to support these new abilities.


The final stage of the ADKAR model includes actions and events that strengthen and reinforce the change within an individual or throughout the organization. Important factors to consider include how meaningful the reinforcement is for the person impacted by the change, the association of the reinforcement with actual accomplishment, the absence of negative consequences, and accountability systems to reinforce the change. One of the greatest risks to change is if no consequences exist for reverting back to actions and behaviors prior to the change.

Overall, ADKAR is a simple and very useful building block framework to sequentially work through the process for change and identify any barriers that could prevent the change from being successful.

Change Management in Action

As Prosci certified Change Management experts, the HigherEchelon team helps organizations identify the changes necessary to reach the next level of success. Our team uses assessments, interviews, focus groups, observation, and discussion to understand company culture and aspirations. Based on company needs and using the ADKAR process, we will collaborate with you to:

  • Create an Organizational Change Management Plan with an identified company Change Champion.
  • Deliver a Change Management workshop.
  • Identify a Communications Plan to help disseminate information across all levels of the organization.
  • Conduct Change Management Coaching to help key stakeholders navigate barriers and resistors to change.
  • Assess the progress throughout the organization of the Change Management Plan.

Learn more about HigherEchelon’s change management services and how we guide organizations through successful change initiatives.


  1. Hiatt, J.M. (2006). ADKAR: A model for change in business, government, and our community. Prosci Learning Center Publications: Fort Collins, CO.

Author Bio

Dr. Angie Fifer is a certified mental performance consultant who provides high performance and executive coaching for government and private sector organizations. As a former Performance Psychology trainer at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Dr. Fifer taught teams and individuals in both athletic and military performance domains. She earned a B.S. in both Kinesiology and Psychology from Penn State University, her M.A. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from California State University at Fullerton, and a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Michigan State University.

We’d love to discuss your needs. Call us at 866-488-9228, email us at Solutions@higherechelon.com, or fill out this form for a complimentary consultation.