How to Lead People Through Change – Part 1: Intro to the ADKAR® Series

Ah yes, another elusive acronym for us to add to our business vernacular. If you stay with me on the following ADKAR blog series, I promise this acronym will become one of your favorites. Why? Because it is simple to understand and can make a big impact to helping achieve project success.

Before we get into the details of ADKAR, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of Organizational Change Management (OCM) and introduce you to the global leader in change management solutions, Prosci ®.

What is Change Management

Prosci® defines change management as the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome. Change management incorporates the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.

That statement of a personal transition is a key part to understanding the methodology of change management. If you think about a project, there may be a significant percentage of the project’s success relying on a person changing how they work. For example, when implementing a new PPM tool, a project manager may need to be change how they track and report their project plan, financials, risk & issues log, etc. If they have been doing the same process in Excel or Microsoft Project, they probably have some sort of an autopilot and learning how to use a new system will be a disturbance to this autopilot. Some people may have a little blip when they come across change, others will have a colossal reaction to this adjustment.

Not to throw another acronym at you, but OCEAN or The Big Five Theory is one that I’ve been interested in lately as it relates to how people emotionally react to and process change, based on their personality. The range where someone falls on each of the Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism spectrum could be an important tell of how they react to change.

Change management is getting out in front of this disturbance – anticipating it – and planning to help people successfully journey through their current state to their future state.

Importance of Change Management

Prosci has 20 years of research into Change Management and their surveys have consistently shown that you are 6x  more likely to meet or exceed your objectives when you implement change management. You are also more likely to stay on budget and achieve the results ahead of schedule.

You can learn more about the details and benefits of OCM in Kelly’s blog: Managing Change: Absent Processes Hurting Your Projects Future or check out the recap of our OCM webinar: Change Management Fundamentals.

ADKAR – An Introduction

As mentioned, Prosci is the global leader of management solutions and there are a lot of tools that Prosci has, but the one that I think complements project management the most is ADKAR since it focusses on an individual’s journey.

ADKAR stands for

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

It represents the five elements of change that must be achieved for that change to be a success. There are a lot of ADKAR resources available outside of attending a Prosci training. Jeffrey M. Hiatt wrote ADKAR: A model for change in business, government, and our community. It’s a short, easy read that can be purchased online.

Lien, wrote a great article that describes how to coach individuals through each section of ADKAR in her blog – Coaching Through Change

Over the next few blogs, we’ll take a deeper look into each one of the ADKAR milestones, starting with Part 1 – Awareness

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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