ADKAR Model: 5 Building Blocks for Successful Change

5 Min Read
ADKAR Model: 5 Building Blocks for Successful Change

ADKAR Model helps businesses thrive with change. It is how they innovate and evolve. A company needs to be agile to adjust to chances when they happen. Enterprises should be well-equipped to implement necessary changes for improvement to avoid the risk of staying stagnant.

However, employees don’t react the same to change, and that can pose serious challenges. One of the most challenging parts of any change management is the people element. As a business owner, manager, you need a change management system to help the workforce through the process.

The ADKAR model is one of the paradigms that enterprises can implement. It’s a bottom-up framework that concentrates on the individuals involved.

What is ADKAR Model?

The ADKAR Model is a simple tool to help the change process. Breaking it into its most basic critical elements, where each step outlines a successful journey.

ADKAR is an acronym representing the five principles of implementing changes successfully. Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. The approach sets goals for change management that increases the success rate. It’s a practical system that takes your process a step at a time. 

ADKAR change model has been proven to help people understand and accept why change is necessary so it can happen successfully and more efficiently. People can be resistant to change as it can be hard to accept and uncomfortable and out of their comfort zone. 

Jeffrey Hiatt developed ADKAR in 2003 to facilitate the management of change and wrote the book ‘ADKAR: a model for change in business, government, and our community’.

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What do the letters stand for in the ADKAR?

What does each of the letters stand for in the Adkar model for managing change?

The following are the five stages of the ADKAR model:

A – Awareness: Make the team aware of the change happening.
D – Desire: Inspire a desire for change.
K – Knowledge: Educate the team on how to make the change work.
A – Ability: Use team knowledge in the ability to make a change.
R – Reinforcement: continuously reinforcing new methods to make the change permanent.


Implementing changes can be difficult when people don’t understand why they are necessary. Awareness requires communication where all the involved parties comprehend the reasons for the proposed changes. Lack of awareness increases the risks of employees falling back into old habits. Therefore, hold open discussions to explain the situation. Get workers’ opinions on various areas for a more successful process. Ensure individuals understand the problems that could arise by failing to put those changes in place.


When people have a desire for change, then you can expect minimal resistance. Gaining support is easy when workers are as interested as you. However, you can’t instruct employees how to feel about certain things. The best you can do is inspire that desire. Give the staff reasons to want the change process to succeed.


How can different employees contribute to the change process? You can only achieve the desired progress if workers have the right competencies, experience, tools and knowledge. Regardless of how much people want to adapt to a new environment, they can’t do much unless they know-how. Therefore, identify the knowledge gaps that need filling. In some instances, training might be necessary. For example, when incorporating new management software.


Knowing is not enough; people should have the capabilities to do so. You have to consider your workers’ ability to put knowledge into practice. Take the time to find out who can do what and leverage those abilities. Identify strengths and weaknesses, then work on them accordingly. This stage helps minimise risks during the change process.


Sustaining change is a major impediment to the process even when the other areas are successful. People adapt to change differently, and that influences how long it takes for new habits to stick. Reinforcement means sharing success so that employees can see what the changes have achieved.

Pros and Cons of the ADKAR Model for Change?

Before implementing the ADKAR change management system, businesses should know its impact. A huge selling point of the model is that it comes ready-made. So, companies that need quick solutions for change will find it useful. 

Companies can easily track progress at the individual level. You can also monitor the effectiveness of the process and learn which aspects need improving. The model has been around for a while with proven success. Hence, businesses can count on getting positive results with proper implementation.

The ADKAR framework is suitable on a small scale. Its limited scope makes it appropriate for incremental changes. Large initiatives have a transformational value that requires a different type of system. ADKAR doesn’t factor in the management element, which is critical when implementing change.

The ADKAR model lays out some of the drivers of change management. However, companies must know the right circumstances where the approach would be most useful.

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