Here is an overview of an incremental organizational change management methodology called ADKAR.
This article also includes a look at the types of resistance that can emerge and how to transform them using up-to-date research from social cognitive neuroscience and
The ADKAR change model is founded on 2 basic ideas:
ADKAR is a good diagnostic and benchmarking tool to identify where and why a change is stuck and also a useful change management model for managing resistance and guiding an effective coaching plan. It's less well suited to revolutionary change where leadership and vision are more critical.
ADKAR is a 5 element model to help implement change within an organization
The five elements of the Prosci ADKAR model for building and managing change are:
Awareness (the A of ADKAR) is the communication message that defines the business benefits of completing the change and the risks of not doing so.
It should be communicated by the project Sponsors. Research indicates that these sponsors should be business, managers or leaders at a senior enough management or business level, that communicates the importance of the change.
These individuals should capture attention, be trusted and engaged throughout the whole change process.
There is a clear distinction made between the business rationale for the change, communicated through business leaders and the personal impact of the change which is held by an
Desire (the D of ADKAR) is the motivation (or not) for an individual to engage with the change. Ideally, the change should create passion and purpose, the next ideal would be to increase a sense of engagement and at the very least to mitigate or
Resistive behaviors towards a change almost always exist at the most human of levels - emotions.
Knowledge (the K of ADKAR) is how well the participant has the relevant skills and behaviors needed to enact the change itself
Ability (the second A of ADKAR) is the embodied knowledge in action.
Think the difference between having driving lessons (knowledge) and the ability to drive itself (ability)
Reinforcement (the R of ADKAR) is the measuring and evaluation that is put into place to ensure the change 'sticks' and individuals don't fall back into older ways of working.
Prosci ADKAR change management model treats change as a sequential process. With each stage needing to be met before the adoption of the next stage.
For example, an individual would need 3 elements to gain maximum benefit of attending a course (for example). They would need to be aware (A) of the benefits of attending a training, individually wish to engage with the course itself (D) so they could benefit from the course content (K).
If the preceding Awareness and Desire are not in place you could put on a training course (K) and the individual would then decide not to turn up (why would they bother as it is not in their perceived interest?), or they could turn up (because they are directed to) but only attend in body with no desire to learn.
In the Prosci ADKAR change management model the same linear process occurs for any change that impacts individuals. So if you were making a substantial wholesale organizational change or creation of a new partnership, employees would need to understand the benefits and risks of the change (A), want the change to happen (D), have the relevant skills and behaviours (K) etc
The Prosci ADKAR change management model works well for traditionally driven organisations with clearly defined structures that are more hierarchical in nature. Particularly when a decision or change is made at a management level (or more senior) and where that change then needs 'cascading' through the rest of the organisation or partnership. I
The successful ability to deliver change means handling the many forms of resistance to change that emerges. There are many reasons for resistance to change in the workplace and from one point of view, you could say that change management is all about transforming resistance, from foot-dragging to petty sabotage to outright rebellions.
People can resist change for a whole host of reasons. Rick Maurer's 3 levels of resistance model
Level 1 resistance is related to intellectual resistance. Many leaders make the mistake of treating all resistance as if it were Level 1 with dire consequences.
Level 1 resistance is triggered by the lack of depth, precision or quality of facts and information that has been shared to articulate the case for change.
It also relates to the ongoing messages and intellectual engagement that occurs during the change cycle.
This is at the level of 'I don't get it'.
Level 2 is an emotional reaction to the change, both good and bad.
This is at the level of 'I don't like it'.
I find the GRACE model helpful here, so you can stay anchored, open and available to understand the difficulties arising in a way that provides a shared way forward.
Gather your attention: focus, grounding, balance
Give yourself space to get grounded, breath in and pause. Invite yourself to be present, embodied and available.
For example, your attention can relax onto your breath or the sensation of your hands resting your legs, or the feeling of the soles of your feet on the floor.
Recall your intention: the resource of motivation
Engagement with others involves connecting at the fundamental level of being human.
This means listening well and acting with integrity and respect. Successful change ultimately means helping others and seeing clearly where they are. Recall that felt-sense.
Attuning to self/other: affective resonance:
Connect with what is going on in your own body and in your own mind. Then connect with the experience of the other person.
This is a process of non-judgemental awareness first involving yourself
Notice the emotional cues, body language and tone of voice of the other person.
How you relate and acknowledge the other person and how the person relates and acknowledges you is the basis of a rich sharing of information and connection.
Considering: what will serve.
During the unfolding encounter, pay attention to insights: stay open to a fresh view of what is happening but also draw on your own expertise and knowledge.
Engage, enact ethically, end: allow for emergence of the next step
From the connectedness, openess discernment that has been created effective action can emerges.
The action could be an open question, an acknowledgement or a proposal as to how to continue.
You are looking for shared supportive ground, based
What emerges mutual, respectful, practical and principled actions.
If this isn't possible the open space exists to resolve conflicts in values, goals or actions. The situation becomes workable because it is rooted in a place of stability and discernment.
Ensure you recognise when the encounter is over. Give youself a small pause , rest your attention on your out-breath for example. This enables you to cleanly move onto the next interaction or task.
Here we enter a seldom spoken domain - trust. Lack of attention to this area is a major reason as to why resistance flourishes and changes fail.
Maybe they do get and like the change, but they don’t trust or have confidence in your leadership.
This is at the level of 'I don't trust you, or who you represent'
To support transforming resistance it's crucial to understand the missing element of the social brain in many change management approaches.
Although social and non-social thinking
Non-social cognition, such as general intelligence, problem-solving, and related intellectual abilities, activates mostly the brain’s lateral surfaces. Social cognition: thinking about oneself, others, and one’s relations with others, activates mostly the medial regions.
Typically, when either the social or the non-social cognitive mode is active, the other and its associated brain regions are inactive. The two types of skills compete with each other, so a deficit in one area could lead to additional strength and influence in the other.
For a great video on our social brain here is neuroscientist Matt Lieberman explaining very simply its importance. He's also written great book call Social which I highly recommend.
Studies show that social pain is processed identically to physical pain which consequentially drives a threat response in the brain - closing down our ability to adopt the change itself.
By social here I mean aspects which trigger uncertainty, unfairness, perceived or real
Elements of trust, clarity of vision, ability to influence relevant options can become resistive or engaging facts.
Change initiatives trigger multiple social threats and this is the underlying neurological reason why change is hard.
Various social triggers cause a threat oriented response, which causes our reasoning powers to diminish.
Conversely, if these drivers are engaged, it is the cause of more engagement and purpose toward the change initiative.
When we recognise that within the brain itself the social drivers trump *EVERYTHING* and understand that we process physical and social pain identically the importance or transforming and engaging these drivers becomes paramount.
Socially driven elements like breaks in trust increase threats and close down the very cognitive resources needed to make effective decisions, innovate, plan and communicate.
“When I wrote Beyond the Wall of Resistance in 1995 about 70 percent of all major changes in organizations failed. According to recent studies the failure rate is still around 70 percent”
Here is an over of David Rock's SCARF model by its pioneer below.
The workplace is a social system with people moving around relational tiers of status. Good status causes the ventral striatum within the brain to light up – we feel good.
The ‘Whitehall Study’ suggests status is one of the most important determinants of longevity; with increased status, individuals have more perceived autonomy and hence ability to influence their environment and hence have less stress.
Status triggers can be a difficult element to hold well in change initiatives.
Change initiatives predicated on status can cause lots of potential negative side effects if not negotiated well.
Professor Neff - “In our culture self esteem means being special and above average... this comparative mindset is quite damaging psychologically and for social relationships”.
If the change appears (or is) imposed from above or 'show ups' someone (or some team) then resistance is the nature
The brain craves certainty for efficient future predictions.
There's always a gap of uncertainty between where we are currently to where the change leads us. The brain interprets this lack of certainty as stressful. As a consequence the brain engages the more energy intensive prefrontal cortex (brain area above the eyes) to respond to the change, focusing attention on an ‘error’ response in the orbital Prefrontal Cortex with activity in the Anterior Cingulate, insula, and amygdala.
In essence decreasing certainty increases ambiguity and the threat response.
I think this is one of the major reasons why the initial vision and values that the change is based upon has to be positively and emotionally compelling. It's a foundation based on both the head and the heart and helps regulate this stress response.
It provides a type of 'antidote' to the uncertainty introduced by the change effort itself. We know where we are going and we want to get there.
It is also why a good communication plan and clear leadership related to the change is required as this provides increased engagement and a clear picture of where we are at - both of which counteracts feelings of uncertainty.
A mild threat response is useful though - enough adrenalin and dopamine is produced "to spark curiosity and energize people to solve problems” (Rock). The craving for ‘neuroleadership certainty’ is driven by the attempt to increase toward and
Another approach is to include Mindfulness programmes at work as this provides a framework for dissolving and working with these anxieties.
We all like to have control of our own destiny. If the change hasn't included the individuals it affects in its development, it is basically experienced as a loss of autonomy by those individuals.
Autonomy is the perception of control and provides greater predictability about the future. For example, Seligman identified that people experience more depression when their lives are driven more by external circumstances.
We all have moments when we experience our lives being out of our control. It's uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful and it decreases cognitive abilities
Decreasing autonomy (micro-management or imposing change) increases a lack of autonomy and the stress response – we've reduced the ability to influence circumstances which affect us.
Aversive events are also more stressful if they are preceded by uncertainty.
This process is counteracted by engaging those individuals who will be affected by the change - help them shape the process.
Relatedness is probably more clearly defined as the connectedness we feel with others.
Will this change decrease the amount of connectivity the employee feels?
Will it cause increased experiences of 'us versus them' - the management enforcing the change and 'they as individuals' being dictated to?
Relatedness is also ultimately about feelings of (or lack) of trust. With social and physical pain appearing synonymous in the brain - activating the dACC (distress associated with pain) and the anterior insula (disgust).
Regulating emotions (which increases activity VLPFC) shows a corresponding decrease in the dACC and insula activity and is experienced as less social pain - this is achieved through labelling emotions through practises such as mindfulness as we experience them or increasing the culture of trust around the change initiative.
Fairness for ourselves (a trusting situation) or for others (genuine justice) is the great equaliser in the SCARF model having a big impact on the other four.
We are social beings so
I'm sure we've all been in a meeting where something unfair has happened, the conflict hasn't be resolved and everyone sits and simmers - sometimes for months on end
Correlational research also shows more
Simply put, is the change itself fair and is it being implemented fairly?
Change Management Presentation