The ADKAR organizational change model (Prosci ADKAR®) has five stages: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Like other change models, it focuses on preparing people for change, helping them change and then reinforcing the changes that have occurred.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The ADKAR Change Model

The ADKAR model is a five stage model of change. It is built on the premise that large organizational changes are the product of many individual changes. The model is owned by the company Prosci (Professional Science) and used in their consulting work. You can learn more about them and there work via the Prosci website.

You can learn more about the things that we at the World of Work Project focus on when leading change in our online Udemy course, The Three Lenses of Leading Change.

The five stages of the ADKAR model are: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. 


The first stage of the ADKAR Change Model is Awareness.

Before people can even consider a change, they must be aware of the need to change / case for change.

Creating awareness often involves communication and education. Increasingly peer advocacy is seen as a powerful tool to raise awareness.


Awareness alone isn’t enough. Individuals still won’t change unless they want to.

Creating desire for change may involve communication, listing, co-creation, peer-advocacy, clear visions and explaining benefits.

Knowledge is key for change.


To change effectively individuals must not only want to change, but also know how to change.

Increasing knowledge involves communication and training. People want to know the goal and the stages to follow to get there.


Once people know how to change they can start to develop their ability to do things in new ways.

Helping people increase their new abilities requires support, permission to fail, patience, quick wins and celebrating success.


The last stage of the ADKAR Change Model is Reinforcement.

Change will only be lasting if people keep using the new ways of working that they’ve learned.

To help embed new ways of doing or being so they become habits requires both positive and negative reinforcement. In other words, good behaviors need to be celebrated and rewarded and bad habits need to be challenged.

To get good at any new thing you need to just keep doing it and reinforcing it.

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Learning More

Organizations often seek to change and improve, and often use organizational development programs to do so. There are many models that seek to explain how change in organizations happens. Some models to consider in the first instance include Kotter’s 8 Step Model, The Burke-Litwin Model and Lewin’s Change Model.

It’s worth noting that there’s a lot of discussion and challenge around organizational change theories. We have several podcasts exploring this, including this one which takes a critical approach to process models of change:

The World of Work Project View

The ADKAR change model is a useful framework for considering how to deliver lasting change. The focus on individuals and their motivations is a key aspect of change, and this model reflects that well. This model is similar to several other models of change at a high level.

The challenge with most change models though is not in their theory but in their practice. Delivering lasting change takes concerted thought, planning, effort and often requires multiple complementing initiatives. Many organizations don’t feel they have the time to deliver change in this way.

In addition, leading change like this requires an aligned senior leadership team who understand the change process. Again, this is not always the case in reality.

Overall we think this is a helpful model to be aware of, though we prefer the simplicity of Lewin’s model and the detail of Kotter’s 8 step approach.

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This post is based on the work of Jeff Hiatt. You can read more on the Prosci website as well as in the book: “Change Management”.

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