What is ADKAR Change Management

Guide: ADKAR Change Management

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Author: Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

Guide: ADKAR Change Management

ADKAR Change Management is a framework designed to support and facilitate the human side of change within businesses. It was originally developed by Jeff Hiatt who founded Prosci. ADKAR is an acronym that stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement and provides a step-by-step approach to supporting employees of all levels of an organisation adapt to change.

In businesses, change is inevitable, and it is human nature to resist change. You have likely resisted change in the past yourself or noticed resistance to change in your project previously. Change management is a key support skill needed for Lean Six Sigma practitioners to ensure changes are successfully implemented and sustained over time. 

ADKAR Change Management - Learn Lean Sigma

What is ADKAR Change Management?

ADKAR is a  change management model that stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.

Let’s break down each part of the ADKAR model in more detail:

  1. Awareness: The first step is about building awareness regarding why a change is necessary. This involves communicating the issues with the current state and the benefits that the change would bring.
    Communication is a key first step in any project particularly if the project involves elements of change. Human nature is to resist change, especially if we do not understand what the change is or why it’s needed.

  2. Desire: Once people are aware, the next step is to create a desire from the stakeholders to want to participate in and support the change. This often involves showing the benefits of the change for individuals and leveraging intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors.

  3. Knowledge: This step involves providing employees with the knowledge and skills needed to change. This could be training sessions, workshops, or documentation explaining the new processes, what it is, why its done this way, what tools are needed, or what behaviors to follow.

  4. Ability: Knowledge alone isn’t sufficient; employees must also have the ability to implement the change on a daily basis. This could involve providing additional resources, tools, or time for people to adapt to the new way of doing things. Practice or training environments can often be helpful for this.

  5. Reinforcement: Finally, to sustain change, ongoing reinforcement is important. This could be through supportive communication, recognizing and celebrating wins, and making sure that the change is integrated into the organizational culture.

The ADKAR model serves as a framework that can be applied in various situations that require change, such as organizational restructuring, adopting new technology, or process optimizations. It provides a structured approach to ensure that change is not only managed but also led in a way that businesses and their employees can benefit from change and improvement.

Why Use ADKAR for Change Management?

Change management is usually met with resistance by individuals, be that at work or outside of work. Ignoring the human factor of emotions, which causes humans to resist change, is likely going to result of failure in the change project or results in success being delayed.

RAID Log - Stakeholder communication and Collaboration - Learnleansigma

The ADKAR model provides a clear, structured process for navigating the complexities of change at an individual level. Using ADKAR to focus on the human element of change should result in a greater change of buy-in from staff and resulting in an increased likelihood of project success.

There are many different change management models that have been developed over the years by consultants and experts. But what makes ADKAR so good to use is that it is a straightforward framework which is simple to follow and implement and achieves results. Another benefit of ADKAR is that it is adaptable to different types and scales of change, which makes it useful for managers and change agents who need a systematic approach to identify gaps it the change management process and take corrective action. 

How to Implement Change Using ADKAR

Step 1: Assessment

The first step in implementing Change Management following the ADKAR model is to understand the current state and identify what the need for change is.

To do this, you should conduct a SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the current situation. Additionally, survey employees to understand their perspective of the existing process and culture. You should also review KPIs to pinpoint areas where improvement could be made.


Feel free to use our SWOT Analysis Template.

Step 2: Planning

With the need for change identified the next step is to develop a robust change management strategy which follows the ADKAR framework.

This involves creating a clear project timeline that clarifies what is going to happen and when. Techniques such as Gantt charts are great tools for this. The project timeline should include the key milestones, such as when the change will start, when the training is, when communication will happen, and when is the go live or end date for the project. 

Project Gantt Chart - Learnleansigma

As part of the planning stage, you should identify who the stakeholders of the process are, and what are their roles or responsibilities to the success for the project. It is recommended that a stakeholder analysis is conducted to identify the level of interest of stakeholders in the project and their level of power or influence of the project.

To find out more about stakeholder analysis, check out our Stakeholder Management Guide.


Another great tool to use in the planning stage is a RACI matrix to assign which stakeholders are responsible, accountable, consulted, or informed throughout the project.

Step 3: Execution

After your assessment and planning stages, it is time to execute the planned change while adhering to the ADKAR framework to ensure that the change is implemented as smoothly as possible for all the stakeholders involved.

During this stage you should implement communication activities to raise awareness and inform stakeholders of the upcoming change. Run training sessions to communicate the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to effectively adapt to change. You should also ensure to provide any required resources and support needed to enable stakeholders to adapt to the change.

A useful tool to consider at this stage is a communication plan to ensure you capture what needs to be communicated to whom, when, and how you will communicate the message or information.

Step 4: Monitoring

During and following the change, it is important to continue to monitor the change process and assess its effectiveness to identify any issues that may arise and need to be addressed. It is important at this stage to conduct regular reviews with the stakeholders to gather qualitative feedback and gain an understanding of any concerns or resistance to the change. This is a great opportunity to take that feedback and address it before it has any detrimental impact on the progress of change, which brings us to the final step of the process Optimization.


Step 5: Optimization

The final step is to optimize the change process by making any adjustments to the change process based on feedback and any impact to KPIs related to the success of the project.

Actions in this stage are to identify areas that need focus or rework, modifying strategies and plans based on the real-world feedback and performance data and reinforce successful changes to ensure that they are sustainable for the long term. 

By following these detailed steps and utilizing the appropriate tools and resources, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of your change initiatives being successful using the ADKAR model.


In conclusion, the ADAKAR Change Management Guide equips individuals and businesses with a clear and simple process to navigate the complexities of change successfully.

Using this method you can effectively guide individuals through the change journey by following the step-by-step process of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. To ensure the sustainability of the change, this guide helps to emphasize the importance of raising awareness, fostering a desire for change, providing knowledge and skills, and reinforcing the change.

Additional Useful Information on the ADKAR Change Management Model

Extensions and Variations of ADKAR

While ADKAR is a comprehensive model, it’s not set in stone. Here are some variations and extensions you might find useful:

  • ADKAR for Teams: The ADKAR model can also be applied at the team or departmental level, not just for individuals. This perspective allows for a more collective approach to managing change.

  • ADKAR-S: Some practitioners add a ‘Sustainability’ component to ensure that changes are not just implemented but also sustained over the long term.

Integration with Other Models

The ADKAR model can be seamlessly integrated with other change management and continuous improvement frameworks such as:

  1. Lean Six Sigma: ADKAR can be especially useful in the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) cycle, particularly in the Control phase where change needs to be institutionalized.

  2. Balanced Scorecard: ADKAR could be mapped to the different perspectives in a Balanced Scorecard to ensure that change aligns with organizational strategy and metrics.


A: The ADKAR Change Management model is a structured approach used to guide individuals and organizations through the process of change. It stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, which are the five key stages that people must go through in order to effectively adapt to and embrace change.

A: The ADKAR model provides a systematic framework for organizations to manage change. It raises awareness and desire for change, provides individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills, and reinforces the change for long-term success. Organizations can increase the likelihood of successful change implementation, reduce resistance, and increase employee engagement by following this model.

A: Yes, the ADKAR model can be used for personal changes as well. The ADKAR model provides a structured approach to helping individuals effectively embrace and adapt to change in their personal lives, whether it’s adopting new habits, pursuing personal growth, or navigating major life transitions.

A: Leaders can use the ADKAR model to help them manage change. Leaders can effectively lead their teams through change and ensure its successful implementation by raising awareness, fostering desire, providing knowledge and training, developing the necessary skills, and reinforcing the change.


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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website www.learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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