Utilising the ADKAR Model - A Successful Model for Change


Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash.

When you are presented with change, do you always welcome it with open arms?

Let’s say you’ve followed a process at work in your role for a number of years—and it works. If someone offers you an alternative process, how likely are you to take up their advice? You may be considering:


  • Why do I need to change my process?
  • What are the consequences if the new process doesn’t work?
  • How long is it going to take to learn this new process?
  • Do I trust the person who is proposing the new process?
  • Are there any consequences if I keep using the original process?
Think about times in your life when you have experienced change. In some instances you may have been resilient to the change and in other instances you may have welcomed it. When you did welcome the change, what were the reasons why? It may have been because the change was compulsory, that you respected the person that initiated it or potentially because you personally wanted it to happen. 

At Belvista Studios we believe that designing a learning experience goes hand-in-hand with creating change. After all, we are not training people to do things the way they always have (Iverson, 2017).

Our team has been experimenting with a change model that we believe will add value to the way we design our projects (and hence add value to yours!).

The change model is called ADKAR. ADKAR is an acronym that represents five outcomes that people need to achieve for change to be successful (Prosci, 2019). These outcomes are:

A: Awareness of the need for change. 
D: Desire to support the change. 
K: Knowledge of how to change.
A: Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviour.
R: Reinforcement to make the change stick. 

(Prosci, 2019).

Often learning solutions can focus on the knowledge and ability aspect of the change. In reality, if someone doesn’t know a change is necessary or feels no desire towards making the change happen, it’s unlikely that they will use their new found knowledge and ability to support it. 

Our team utilised this change model for a recent animation project and we feel inspired to share how we used it to support the change process. We hope this will inspire you for your own projects.

Let’s get into it!

Awareness of the need for change

One of the most important elements of change is that the people involved know:

Why?

The animation project our team worked on was for the introduction of a drug and alcohol policy in an organisation.

To meet the requirements for this part of the model, we needed to gain a deep understanding of why the policy was being introduced and communicate this to the employees involved. Through speaking to the client we were able to build an understanding of why they were introducing the policy and incorporate this in the content of the animation.

Building awareness around the need to change provided the groundwork for the employees to consider to accept the change.

Desire to support the change

Desire refers to the willingness that people have to support and actively engage with the change.

Whilst people may be aware that the change needs to happen, are they personally invested and motivated to take part in it?

It was at this part of the model that we needed to consider: 

  • How will the change impact the employees personally?
  • What’s in it for them? 
This required us to build empathy for the employees and step into their shoes. To do this we created user personas and brainstormed how the policy could directly impact their lives.

As this solution was focused on a drug and alcohol policy we placed emphasis on how drug and alcohol related incidents could influence them personally, such as: 

  • Life-long guilt if they caused an accident that impacted a workmate.
  • Their family having to cope with their serious injury/death.
Knowledge of how to change

Once the people involved with the change are actively engaged with making it happen, they then need to know what action to take and how to take it.

For the drug and alcohol policy we needed to discover what knowledge the employees needed to successfully work with the change.

We wanted to know what questions, frustrations and resistance employees had relevant to the change. If we could address these, we could provide them with the knowledge they needed to feel comfortable and act appropriately.

We interviewed a number of employees to discover what questions they had. Our team also brainstormed a list of questions that we would have in their situation.

Questions included:

  • What does the testing process look like?
  • Can I refuse to be tested?
  • Will I get fired if I fail a test?
  • How will this impact my social life?
  • What will my workmates think about a failed test?
  • Why zero alcohol when you can drive a car with some alcohol in your system?
  • What if I take prescription medication? 
We found answers for some of the questions in the policy and incorporated this content into the animation. We were able to answer other questions by asking employees through user interviews, the best way to resonate with employees.

Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviour

This part of the change model is about turning knowledge into action. This means translating the knowledge they have obtained into actions in their real-world environment.

Using the personas that we created for the employees, we brainstormed common situations that they would face in the real world, such as the testing process and drinking at a family bbq on a Sunday afternoon.

We incorporated these situations through the story component of the animation and demonstrated how they could use their knowledge to act appropriately.

To really take this part of the change model to the next level, we needed to encourage behaviours beyond the animation in the real world, such as: 

  • Coaching and support from supervisors.
  • Access to information that answers their questions.
(Prosci, 2019)

Reinforcement to make the change stick

Reinforcement is the final part of the model and it’s critical (Prosci, 2019).

Even if through the animation solution, we created awareness, acceptance and the ability for the employees to support the change, this doesn’t mean that this will be sustained long-term. It’s human nature to revert to what we know (Prosci, 2019) and we need to put measures in place to avoid this from happening.

To reinforce this change we need to ensure that the employees’:

  • Environment supported the change (e.g. providing self-testing kits and information sheets). 
  • Culture supported the change (e.g. their supervisors and teammates continued to actively support zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol at work). 
We have only just started to scratch the surface of the ADKAR model and from our research there are a number of strategies that you can use from it to encourage change. If you want to know more about the model and understand it at a deeper level we recommend downloading the free 6 guides here.

We hope that you gained value from this blog and can use the strategies to improve your own projects. If you are interested in this topic and would like to discuss it further, please don’t hesitate to contact our passionate founder Kim Tuohy via kim@belvistastudios.com or by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

                                                               Invest in Yourself

If you like topics like these and want to develop yourself more, check out our creator hub here. Our creator hub offers a range of templates and services that aim to support you in developing, improving and growing to meet your future needs in the instructional design and eLearning industry.

Grab the freebies such as the exact storyboard template we use, as well as case studies on how to create an induction and branching scenarios. There are paid templates to support you with writing a contract, quoting, managing a project and writing proposals. 💙💜

References


Iverson, A. (2017). 3 Instructional Design Strategies for SMART Change. Retrieved from http://info.alleninteractions.com/three-instructional-design-strategies-for-smart-change.

Prosci. (2019). ADKAR Ability: How to foster ability to implement a change. Retrieved from https://empower.prosci.com/the-prosci-adkar-model-ebook-bundle

Prosci. (2019). ADKAR Awareness: How to effectively build awareness for change. Retrieved from https://empower.prosci.com/the-prosci-adkar-model-ebook-bundle

Prosci. (2019). ADKAR Desire: How to positively influence a person’s desire to embrace change. Retrieved from https://empower.prosci.com/the-prosci-adkar-model-ebook-bundle

Prosci. (2019). ADKAR Knowledge: How to effectively build knowledge in individuals. Retrieved from https://empower.prosci.com/the-prosci-adkar-model-ebook-bundle

Prosci. (2019). ADKAR Reinforcement: How to sustain a change. Retrieved from https://empower.prosci.com/the-prosci-adkar-model-ebook-bundle

Prosci. (2019). What is the ADKAR Model? Retrieved from https://www.prosci.com/adkar/adkar-model

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