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What is the ADKAR model of change?

We recently came across another model of change that we thought would be of interest to Enablers of change. It’s the ADKAR® model. So in this episode we’re going to unpack what this model is all about and how we can use it as enablers of change.

The ADKAR model of change consists of five elements: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement (hence the acronym ADKAR). This model of change is designed to show us how to move from awareness to intention, and from intention to implementation. The model is actually owned by the company Prosci (Professional Science) and used in their consulting work. The model was developed by Prosci’s founder Jeff Hiatt, to help understand organisational change. It’s based on the idea that for organisations to change, individuals in the organisation need to change. It maps out the stages that individuals go through to implement change. Let’s look at the different stages in the model.

Stage one: Awareness. As enablers of change we know that if we want people to change, they have to be aware of the need to change. We have a range of activities that we use to raise awarenesssuch as field days and media articles. These are mechanisms to highlight what change might be needed and why.

Stage two: Desire. This stage recognises that awareness by itself isn’t enough! We need to be motivated to change. This might involve having peers explain the benefits to a change, but we recognise that this can be pretty difficult for some changes!

Stage three: Knowledge. People need to be aware of the change needed, want to change, and then know how to change. Often this stage involves training and education to help build that knowledge and understand what’s required to change. Enablers of change are well practised at this—think of all the extension workshops being organised and run. These are often all about building knowledge!

Stage four: Ability. Once people know how to change then we can start supporting them to develop their ability to make this change. Often this might involve debriefing failure and celebrating successes. 

Stage five: Reinforcement. We usually know this is important, but we don’t always make sure we’re supporting the changes people have made. 

Researchers in Europe have used the model to explore antibiotic use amongst poultry and pig farmers (Caekebeke et al., 2021 Houben et al., 2020). They concluded it was a useful way of helping vets understand the barriers to lowering antibiotic use as they were able to specify the types of barriers based on the stages of the model.

We think the ADKAR model is a useful addition to the models of change we’ve been working through. And now you’ve read our thoughts, now we’d like to hear yours! Add a comment below and tell us, have you heard of the ADKAR model? Have you used it? We’d like to hear about your experiences, including any tips and further ideas about it. We don’t want this to be just a one-way conversationjoin in by sharing your thoughts and ideas with us! 

Thanks folks for joining us on this Enablers of change episode. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to know when new episodes are available. And if you liked what you heard, please tell your friends so they too can join the conversation!


Houben, M. A. M., Caekebeke, N., van den Hoogen, A., Ringenier, M., Tobias, T. J., Jonquiere, F. J., … & Postma, M. (2020). The ADKAR® change management model for farmer profiling with regard to antimicrobial stewardship in livestock production. Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift, 89(6). Available online 

Caekebeke, N., Ringenier, M., Jonquiere, F. J., Tobias, T. J., Postma, M., van den Hoogen, A., … & i-4-1-Health Study Group. (2021). Coaching Belgian and Dutch broiler farmers aimed at antimicrobial stewardship and disease prevention. Antibiotics, 10(5), 590. Available online 

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Danielle Lannin
8 months ago

Great model – love it, and love the example of application in real life.

And well done on an awesome APEN Conference John & Denise. Sorry to have missed it – but loving the stories drifting through!

Michelle Rush
7 months ago

This was one of the models we explored in our advanced ToP Facilitation course – Understanding and Leading Change – some useful dimensions. However like all change models, our experience is the ‘co-creation’ of the change process is the key bit (thus why we encouraged our participants to view ADKAR through a Technology of Participation lens) as in our experience this really galvanises a sense of ‘can do’ instead of ‘done to’ in participants.

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