Everything You Need to Know about the ADKAR Model & Prosci’s ADKAR Methodology. Is It Worth Using?
One of the most popular methodologies in the change management industry is the Prosci ADKAR model of change management.
You’ll run across this model under several names, such as “ADKAR model,” “ADKAR framework,” and “Prosci ADKAR change management model,” but its official name is The Prosci ADKAR® Model.
Using a change management model as a guide before undertaking any type of organizational change is important because it acts as “rails on the track” that keep you from careening off in the wrong direction.
Models, such as the ADKAR method, also provide an important step-by-step template for planning for, implementing, and sustaining change.
According to a study by Prosci, the developer of the ADKAR model, 62% of successful change projects (categorized as having “good” or “excellent” outcomes) use a specific change methodology – while only 6% of change projects with a “poor” outcome use one.
This illustrates the importance of not going into a change project unprepared and applying a tool like the ADKAR change management plan template as your roadmap throughout the change process.
Understanding the Prosci ADKAR Model of Change
Why am I always hearing about the ADKAR model of change management?
There are several different change methodologies to choose from, but one reason that you may hear more about ADKAR methodology is because it’s one of the most popular in the industry.
If you’re planning an organizational change project or thinking of becoming a change management consultant, you may be seeking answers to questions like:
- What is Prosci ADKAR Model?
- What is ADKAR methodology?
- How do I use ADKAR?
- How do I implement ADKAR change management successfully?
In this article, we’ll go through a detailed overview of The Prosci ADKAR® Model, take you through the ADKAR framework steps, and explain how to implement the Prosci ADKAR methodology for a successful change program.
We’ll also include both short and longer sections answering, “What is the Prosci ADKAR change management model?”, so you can digest just as much information as you need to better comprehend and use the ADKAR method for change management.
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What is the Difference Between Prosci and ADKAR?
First, let’s clear up a common confusion between Prosci and the ADKAR methodology. These two are often confused because of the full name of the framework being The Prosci ADKAR® Model.
Prosci and ADKAR aren’t two partners that joined forces to come up with a popular change methodology.
So, “What is the difference between Prosci and ADKAR?”
One is the company that developed the model, and the other is the name of the model. Prosci is the firm that developed the ADKAR model, and ADKAR is the methodology/framework created by the company, Prosci.
Prosci is a consulting company that was founded in 1994 to help businesses do things better, namely, manage organizational change. After years of scientific research, Prosci developed the Prosci ADKAR model for change management, and the rest is history.
Because the ADKAR change management plan template is based on solid research and is so comprehensive, it has stood the test of time and remains a popular change management methodology to this day.
It’s not unusual for a firm hiring a change management consulting position to require certification to The Prosci ADKAR® Model.
What is the ADKAR Change Management Model Really Based On?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the ADKAR framework, it helps to have a basic understanding of where it came from. We’ll answer the question, “What is the ADKAR change management model’s origin story?”
The founder of Prosci was a former engineer and program manager for Bell Labs. He noticed that even though two projects might be similar in nature and have good project management and excellent technical components, one might be successful while the other would fail.
He wondered why that was the case. What was causing the difference?
The Prosci ADKAR methodology is based upon the answer to that question, which was: People.
How did Prosci come up with that answer? By researching over 4,500 participants and using scientific methods to understand what drives successful results in organizational change projects.
One of the biggest factors in whether a change management project succeeds or fails is how the people impacted by the change (aka the stakeholders and impacted users) handle that change. So, as we go through the ADKAR method, you’ll see that people play a big part in the framework.
In Brief: What is Prosci ADKAR?
For those of you wanting a “cheat sheet” to answer “What is Prosci ADKAR?”, this section will give you the basics. To dig in a little deeper and gain a better understanding of the ADKAR change management plan template, you’ll want to read a little further.
What is the Prosci ADKAR Model?
The ADKAR model of change is based on the simple fact that change is about the people in the organization more than the organization as a whole.
Organizations can only change successfully when their people change successfully.
So, the ADKAR model uses an acronym to describe the process of change transition that people need to be guided through to foster successful results for change projects.
- A knowledge of why a change is taking place (if someone doesn’t know why something’s changing, they’re more likely to resist the change).
- The desire to get on board with the change, rather than resist it.
- Knowledge of what that change means for them and what they’re supposed to do.
- The training to give them the skills and information they need to successfully transition from the “old way” to the “new way.”
- Continued support and reinforcement of the new way of doing things so they can be successful and the change will stick.
What Does Each of the Letters Stand for in the ADKAR Model for Managing Change?
The name “ADKAR” in the Prosci ADKAR change management model was created intentionally. Each letter is a way to remember the five different stages that individuals impacted by change need to pass through to drive successful change.
You can think of each of the letters in ADKAR as building blocks to create positive change results.
Prosci ADKAR Model of Change
What is ADKAR Stand For?
Each of the letters in the ADKAR model for managing change stand for the following:
- A: Awareness as to why change is happening
- D: Desire to support the change
- K: Knowledge of how to successfully change
- A: Ability to adopt the new skills/behaviors for the change
- R: Reinforcement of the change, so it sticks
What is ADKAR Used For?
“Change” can seem like a ubiquitous term that’s not very detailed. However, it’s the best way to describe what happens when an organization modifies the way something is done. Any type of change impacts stakeholders, which can include employees, managers, vendors, customers, or others.
The ADKAR framework is used to help organizations plan, manage, and reinforce change successfully.
Let’s go through one example that will give you a better idea of why companies seek out Prosci ADKAR methodology to help them approach change projects.
A company is moving from a manual process of charting customer support tickets to an automated process using a cloud CRM app.
This will involve a lot of “change” throughout the organization, including customer support reps using entirely new tools and going through a new process, customers (hopefully) experiencing faster responses, and a new analytics capability.
In order to accomplish moving from the old process to the new process, several things need to occur successfully, such as communication about the transition, training on the new process, testing of the new cloud platform, development of daily workflows, and more.
Managing all those moving parts and providing a roadmap for a change project from start to finish is what Prosci Adkar methodology was created to do.
What is ADKAR Methodology?
One of the reasons that the Prosci ADKAR model has been successful for so long is the detailed methodology used to create the model.
The ADKAR change management plan template, as well as Prosci’s other tools and training programs, are the results of 20 years of best practice research.
Prosci describes ADKAR methodology as “the collective lessons learned by those implementing change across the globe.”
The ADKAR method is designed to be holistic and easy for organizations to use. It’s also designed to help individuals and organizations build up their change management skills and learn the factors behind the successful change.
In Detail: What is the Prosci ADKAR Model?
Now, let’s dig into a little more detail about The Prosci ADKAR® Model, which will take us beyond just the five building blocks that make up the acronym: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.
The Prosci ADKAR change management model offers four main benefits to organizations using it to manage change:
- Focus on Driving Individual Change: If you take care of your people when it comes to change, they’ll take care of your organization to help you attain successful results.
- Clear Goals: The Prosci ADKAR model is comprehensive, so change managers have clear goals and measurable outcomes.
- Simple Framework: A change model isn’t helpful if only a few people can understand how to use it. The ADKAR model of change is designed to be easily used by anyone.
- Common Change Language: The ADKAR Framework gives managers, employees, and everyone else the same easy lexicon to use to discuss change management activities.
The main take away from the ADKAR model of change is that change happens one person at a time.
Another takeaway is that change is a process, not an event. During change, those who are impacted are transitioning from a current to a future state. Having an understanding of that helps those handling change manage it more easily.
The ADKAR change management model takes a bottom-up approach, addressing each individual impacted by a change, nurturing their ability to understand, support, become proficient in, and reinforce the change.
The Three-Phase Process
Used alongside the ADKAR model of change is a three-phase process that provides a roadmap for planning, implementing, and sustaining successful change.
These phases are:
- Preparing for change
- Managing change
- Reinforcing change
ADKAR Change Management Model 2020
As you go through each of the three phases, you’ll find steps and mechanisms that will help you build out your change management program using ADKAR methodology to ensure individuals are moving through each of the five change stages.
Here are a few examples of the mechanisms you’ll find in each phase:
Phase 1: Preparing for change
- Change characteristics profile
- Organizational attributes profile
- Change management team structure
- Sponsor and stakeholder assessment
- Impact assessment
- Change management strategy
Phase 2: Managing change
Phase 3: Reinforcing change
- Measuring changes in behavior
- Corrective action plans
- Reinforcement mechanisms
- Individual and group recognition
- Success celebrations
- After-action review
How Do I Use the Prosci ADKAR Model?
You have several options for how to use the Prosci ADKAR model of change management in your organization.
A benefit of using such a popular and well-respected change model is that you won’t have any trouble locating materials for the ADKAR model of change or consultants that understand ADKAR methodology.
How Do I Use Adkar?
Do It All Yourself
If you’d like to take a DIY approach, you can find several resources on the Prosci website and also on Airiodion Global Services (AGS), including training materials, workshops, white papers, and more.
You can work your way through those, develop your plan from the ADKAR framework, and personalize it for your change management project.
Use a Change Management Tool
An easier way to manage change management yourself would be to use a tool that incorporates the ADKAR change management model.
The AGS All-in-One OCM ERP tool leverages the ADKAR methodology and makes it easy to input your change management data and receive real-time analytics to support your change efforts. Learn more about this tool here.
Work with a Change Management Consultant
If you prefer to have someone knowledgeable about change management handle your project, you can hire a consultant that is certified in the ADKAR change management model.
How Do You Implement ADKAR?
The implementation of the Prosci ADKAR model consists of using the ADKAR methodology and the accompanying three-phase process to plan, manage, and reinforce your change management project.
In recap, the key building blocks of the ADKAR model of change are:
- Awareness of the reason for change
- Desire to get behind the change
- Knowledge of how to accomplish the change
- Ability to function well after the change, skillsets, and behaviors
- Reinforcement support after the change
What is ADKAR Change Management? How Do I Get Certified?
Prosci offers several certification options for the ADKAR change management model. Certification offers a chance for change managers or consultants to become proficient in the Prosci ADKAR model of change and gain a more in-depth understanding of the methodology.
Here is an overview of the certifications offered for those wanting to become more proficient in the ADKAR change management model:
- Virtual Change Management Certification Program
- Change Management Certification Program: 3-day Experiential Program
- Advanced Change Practitioner Certification
- Advanced Deployment Leader Certification
- Advanced Instructor Certification
Using the ADKAR Model for Change Management?
Are you using the ADKAR model of change management at your organization? If so, we recommend reviewing the information available here at AGS and on the Prosci website for more details on how to use ADKAR methodology to successfully drive change.
Remember, the core message of The Prosci® ADKAR Model is that people are the ones driving change, not the organization. So, take care of your people!
If you do that, research shows that you’ll have a much better chance of driving a successful change project that meets or exceeds your expectations.
Conclusion – This Year’s Prosci ADKAR Review: Understanding Prosci ADKAR Change Management Methodology
As you can see, the ADKAR change management model is designed to be comprehensive and easy to use. With a common lexicon and simple, measurable results, it’s one of the easiest methods for companies of all sizes to adopt.
The methodology behind the Prosci ADKAR change management model is based upon years of studying best practices in change projects. It drills down into exactly what causes projects to succeed or fail… which is the people impacted by the change.
While it can be intimidating, anytime you begin a new change project, using the ADKAR model of change management can simplify the process by breaking down each step to make the entire project more manageable.
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Authors: Ogbe Airiodion (Senior Change Management Lead) and Francesca Crolley (AGS Cloud Content Producer)
Content on Airiodion Global Services (AGS)'s Airiodion.com website is copyrighted. Questions? Contact Airiodion Global Services (AGS) .
Best Change Management Toolkits & Templates
Free Change Management Templates (Excel, PDF, PPT)
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