ADKAR as a Framework for Change?


If you have worked with systems implementation for a while, there is a good chance that you have some across a few. Some while ago, I wrote a blog post on the subject.

I bet, that the application or system you implemented was pretty much okay, but the organisation and people failed to change and adapt to the new ways of working.

I am sure the above rings a bell with a lot of you, who have been working with systems implementation for some years.

Also, it is fair to say, most of us recognise that a key reason for failure is the lack of genuinely good change management. Very often, the system is implemented as a technical exercise by a systems integrator leaving change management to the customer, who may be very good a their business but has no explicit skills within change management.

In some cases this actually works and everybody is happy, but too often change management equates to a bit of training and then we are done with it.

Maybe a more structured approach to change management could be applicable and this is where ADKAR comes in. Obviously, there is a number of change management frameworks out there and every major consultancy probably has its own, but to me ADKAR is simple and accessible.

In the following, I will go through the five key building blocks of ADKAR and why they are necessary to facilitate successful change. At the core of ADKAR is the idea that change starts with each individual person and I quite like that approach. In a project you need to convince all individuals that change is necessary, explain how to change and show how the change will affect them.

Awareness of the Need for Change: Firstly, getting people to understand why change is necessary and the consequences if change is not made is pivotal. Most people are naturally averse to change, if they do not understand why. People, who understand the underlying need for change, are motivated to make that change and will actively support the process.

Desire to Support the Change: Individuals may have different reasons for supporting change, but they need motivation. Obviously, fear is a great motivator so if the reason for change is job loss or a similar catastrophic event, some people may feel the necessary motivation. For others, pecuniary incentives or a potential promotion may be necessary. Again, motivation is individual and should be treated as such to be successful with change.

Knowledge of How to Change: This is often the core component of any change management programme, I have come across in the past. Training, new work instructions, process diagrams etc. Tangible stuff that gives everyone on the project a feeling that “we are certainly doing change management”. And yes, this needs to be prioritised and not just become a side-issue as we get pushed for time or resources during the project.

Ability to Demonstrate New Skills and Behaviours: Giving people the knowledge to change does not necessarily make them able to change. As part of the project, we need to ensure that change is actually happening, to the appropriate standard. Embedding change management into the overall plan is key and introducing genuine stage-gating that includes change management checkpoints is good practice.

Reinforcement to Make the Change Stick: In my experience, management must, throughout the project, reinforce the change management and constantly ensure that the ADKA components in the framework are being implemented and pushed.

On paper, change management seems extremely simple. However, in our eagerness to deliver the system configurations, integrations, data migration etc. in a project we tend to overlook the need to motivate people to change and to give them the tools to make the change happen. Last, but not least, we are often failing to build the necessary controls into the plan that ensures synchronisation between the technical implementation and the progress on change.

In my experience, before commencing a major systems implementation project, any organisation should ask themselves: DO WE NEED TO CHANGE?, ARE WE REALLY READY FOR CHANGE? and WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE DO NOT CHANGE? You can certainly use ADKAR as an inspiration for answering these questions.

Further reading: If you are interested in learning more about ADKAR, I can recommend this book on the subject.

Source: The source of this blog is the ADKAR framework developed and marketed by Prosci. ADKAR is the copyright of Prosci.


One thought on “ADKAR as a Framework for Change?

  1. Hi Henrik
    Spot on – You address the biggest pain in connection with ERP implementation. In my option is 80% of ERP implementation related to change management. You will only see the benefit of the ERP implementation if people actual change the way the work on not just continue to work as they are used to in a new system.

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