Leading Change: ADKAR for Allyship
Originally published on LinkedIn June 2, 2020.
Originally published on LinkedIn June 2, 2020 here.
I’ve written over the years about the Prosci ADKAR model, introduced by Jeff Hiatt, Prosci Founder, in his book “ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community.” ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement, and helps distill all the key steps needed to effectively lead and manage change, not just in business and government, but also within communities organized around a common purpose, such as addressing issues of inclusion and equity.
A common theme in applying these principles within organizations and communities of various sizes is recognizing how important it is to properly gauge the desire of people to be a part of the change, and not otherwise maintain passive and/or active resistance. No amount of awareness messaging or training (knowledge) can make up for someone lacking the internal desire to see a change successfully implemented. You can learn more about Making the Transition from Awareness to Desire and How to Achieve Desire from Prosci here.
However, even when someone has the internal desire to support change, in whatever capacity they are able to do so, e.g., allies for marginalized or susceptible communities; misguided and uninformed efforts can sometimes be ineffective at best or counterproductive at worst. This is why it is important to have a plan for equipping those with varying levels of maturity and competency to address key topics effectively, in order to support meaningful progress towards the desired change.
Even where a potential ally has a desire to help, effective allyship requires both the willingness and maturity to see complexities in the related issues, along with access to the tools and resources necessary to act with confidence as an effective ally. The ADKAR model is a helpful way to frame some of the recurring challenges we see in leading and managing change, particularly when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to address long-standing systemic issues impeding progress from a racial justice perspective and also from a public health outcome perspective.
Recent events have certainly raised the awareness of many who may not have been involved in previous efforts to address DEI and/or public health issues for susceptible populations (and there is much overlap between them, e.g., “‘It’s a racial justice issue’: Black Americans are dying in greater numbers from Covid-19”), but keeping in mind the importance of desire can help address what may appear to be ineffective attempts at later stages of knowledge transfer, demonstrating ability and positively reinforcing the desired change not only for the impacted communities, but among their allies as well.
The Guardian, “‘It’s a racial justice issue’: Black Americans are dying in greater numbers from Covid-19,” Apr. 8, 2020, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/its-a-racial-justice-issue-black-americans-are-dying-in-greater-numbers-from-covid-19
Jeffrey M. Hiatt, “ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community,” Aug 2006, on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19192671-adkar
Prosci ADKAR Model Overview and Free Training Guides: https://www.prosci.com/adkar