How to Lead People Through Change – ADKAR® Series Part 2: Awareness

Today, our focus is on the first milestone – Awareness in the ADKAR acronym. As you just read in our last blog we introduced ADKAR, which stands for

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement


In order to get people’s buy-in on the change they must first understand the why. Awareness is all about helping people understanding the “Why” of the change.

Simon Sinek has a book and TED Talk called “Start with the Why” – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He bolds the fact that when you communicate the why (the purpose, the  ADKAR: Awarenessreason) rather than starting with the what (benefits/features) then we are focusing on the part of the brain that controls decision making. Nearing in on the “gut-feeling” part that we tend to draw on when we are making a decision, and our emotional reaction to it.

According to Prosci, this message is best communicated by a trusted, visible, and active Sponsor within the organization and this makes perfect sense. As Project Managers, we are often leading the team on some pretty cool initiatives, but it’s when the CEO takes center stage at a town-hall and speaks to the heart about Why they are going in that direction, that people take notice and listen.

I’ve seen some great examples of how to generate buzz around a new application that was being rolled out. It started with a very friendly message “have you heard the word” that started to gain everyone’s interest and excitement for what may be coming. One company I worked with, had a great idea for a Sponsor Roadshow where the team got a little cart and went around the office handing out ice-cream as the Project Sponsor walked around and started planting the seed about a new department the organization was developing and the benefits it could offer to the organization.

When we do not communicate the why, people will fill in the knowledge gaps themselves. The rumor-mill can be strong, so we want to own the message from the beginning by communicating the Why early on.

Join me next time, where we talk about Part 3 – Desire.

To learn more about how Kolme Group can help you with your Organizational Change Management needs, click here!


Kornelia Homewood Administrator
PPM Consultant , Kolme Group

Kornelia loves to help Kolme Groups customers by bringing a breadth of PM, PMO, and PMIS knowledge to guide them in discovering what will work best and drive the most value within their own organizations. She is a certified PMP, Professional Scrum Master I, and has a master’s degree in project management. This knowledge and experience has helped her build PMOs, coach others on project management methodologies, and lead countless projects in finance, higher education, marketing, and technology industries. She is a life-long learner and always curious. When not in the office, you’ll find her taking a quick walk around the neighborhood listening to all her favorite PM podcasts, logging on to a PM webinar, or just reading about PM trends.

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