Do you want to better understand change management models? We have created a simple, yet essential breakdown.

We have all been there; you received the email confirming the rumors you had heard: your employer is merging with another firm. Or maybe your school just got a brand new computer system, meaning all homework and assignments must be submitted online going forward.

It is change, and it is bound to happen. How each change is viewed is based largely on how it is implemented. When it is viewed as bad, it is most often because the target initiatives and outcomes are valued over the human aspect; the people involved in an organization, and the change is enacted with no consideration for what exactly its impact will be. In those cases, it is usually most painful for the individuals on the frontlines—the ones most likely to absorb the discomforts experienced by the uprooting of old systems and workflows.

Some managers approach change management (CM) with the ol’ Band-Aid method: “It’s going to hurt, so it’s best to do it quickly!” All too often, this approach leaves individuals within an organization in flux, feeling confused, resentful, or angry and asking themselves: “Shouldn’t there be a better way to do this?”

The answer is yes! CM methods offer structured approaches that are aimed at ensuring that change happens efficiently, improves the likelihood for successful transitions, and meets the organization’s desired end goals. There are many CM structures and methods, and the ADKAR model developed by ProSci is one of the most used CM models in the world. ADKAR offers a holistic approach to implementing change on a personal level.

ADKAR Stands For:

  • Awareness of the business reasons for change. Awareness is the goal/outcome of early communications related to an organizational change.
  • Desire to engage and participate in the change. Desire is the goal/outcome of sponsorship and resistance management.
  • Knowledge about how to change. Knowledge is the goal/outcome of training and coaching.
  • Ability to realize or implement the change at the required performance level. Ability is the goal/outcome of additional coaching, practice, and time.
  • Reinforcement to ensure change sticks. Reinforcement is the goal/outcome of adoption measurement, corrective action, and recognition of successful change.

CM models have been around for decades and are frequently reviewed and revised for the ever-changing business and group organization landscape. To get an understanding of some of the top models, let’s do a quick comparison of other often-used models and see how they stack up to ADKAR.

John Kotter’s 8-Step Process to Leading Change

  1. Increase Urgency
  2. Build the Guiding Team
  3. Get the Vision Right
  4. Communicate for Buy-In
  5. Empower Action
  6. Create Short-Term Wins
  7. Do Not Let Up
  8. Make Change Stick

John Kotter’s 8-step process to leading change model is one of the most famous and widely used CM models. It offers a top-down approach to change; one in which management or an authority figure acts as the driving force behind the change. This model works when team members buy-in to the proposed change, but it fails to consider all of the effects of the initiatives before implementation.

There are many ways to approach CM; some are more procedural like Kotter’s process, and others examine the psychology behind what people experience during change. Acknowledging and addressing these three distinct and separate processes is essential for getting your team through the transition and not just making change happen as a transaction.

Bridge’s Transition Model

  1. Ending, Losing, and Letting Go
  2. The Neutral Zone
  3. The New Beginning

Bridge’s transition model is a helpful, but broad, model for the stages of transition that individuals and organizations experience when going through change. This can be crucial for understanding how people feel and react during the stages of change, but it does not provide as strong of an approach and structure to change as Kotter’s processes do. As you can see, there are pros and cons to each process and often a combination of methods can be used simultaneously. ADKAR uniquely addresses CM process, as well as psychology.

As technology accelerates and cloud-based platforms and telecommuting workers both increase, there is a growing amount of fractured teams within companies. As the rate of remote employees rises, one thing becomes more apparent: Change is inevitable. Change management is often used in startup and technology sectors, where constant change is an expected and accepted part of daily business life. However, offline businesses —such as product-development, engineering, and community-development companies— could benefit most from structured CM approaches. Change is not relegated just to tech. Often, bringing companies up to technological speed is a reason for resistance among team members. People are emotionally attached to workflows; they become invested in their daily processes and can be hesitant when change is on the horizon.

One thing that project managers, stakeholders, and employees all have in common is that they want the projects they work on to be successful. However, these projects often fall short of their intended goals, leaving all involved feeling that something was missed. Managers, in particular, are tasked with the responsibility of making transitions happen. How do they get there? How does a leader carry a project through to its end? How do individuals accept change and champion the results and success of projects?

Becoming CM certified is one way to mitigate these issues and gain the tools necessary to guide an organizational transition to its final state. Becoming ADKAR certified makes any leader, project manager, or individual an authority in connecting the people side of a project to its business side, allowing for the greatest results possible. ADKAR is the leading CM model that does not neglect the way individuals are impacted by change. ADKAR acknowledges that people are the key to change; because of course, change happens in people first, and then processes, eventually leading to dynamic organizational transition. ADKAR also helps leaders identify where the current change process is falling short and how to best address it.

Whether you are dealing with a professional or an individual change, you can benefit from ADKAR’s results-oriented, research-based change-management structure. CM certification will increase your ability to assess whether an organization is ready for change, identify impact groups, and build a thoughtful strategy to influence an individual’s acceptance of change. Approaching change with this methodology can establish trust, reduce a company’s costs, and enhance a project’s results, leaving the entire team walking away from a transition saying to themselves: “That was a great way to do this!”

ADKAR Certification