Readiness to change, Prosci style

29 Jan

Warning: this post is me geeking out on change theory…keep reading…it will be worth it.

One of the coolest parts of my education at Northwestern was learning about change management. We had 2 classes on it to talk about the theory behind it and how to do it. We studied quite a few models, evaluated a change of our own, and used a case study to design and test a change.  Through these classes, I learned about the Prosci Change management certification.

Prosci is an organization that has studied change management for years. They publish leading research on what works in change management, as well as several books and training programs. I am a HUGE Prosci fan. Instructional design wise, the certification program was a solid learning experience incorporating lecture, group activity, practical application, case study, and fun. Seriously, can’t say it enough….one of the best certifications I have under my belt. I have used their method to much success to get stuff done at work. More importantly, it was Prosci that provided a key insight for me on weight loss well before I was ready to take action.

Before I attended the certification class, I read their book “ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community”. Here is the basic ADKAR model:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement required skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

To get it from the original source, go here:

The basic premise is that you have to move people from one step to the next in order for change to happen. People will not change if they are not aware of the need to change. If they are aware of the need and desire to do it, next comes providing the knowledge to do it. You have to know something about it before you can do something about it (ability). That change needs to be carried out over time so reinforcement is necessary. Change won’t work by announcing a change (awareness) and then reinforcing behavior…you have to fill in the why, what and how. (There is much more to the ADKAR model, but that is all you need to know for now).

What struck me is the brilliance of this change management model. You can use it to see whether you are ready to change or not. It also walks you through a 5 phase process to lead change at the big overview level. Then on a smaller level, it helps you manage the day-to-day or moment-to-moment transition that happens during change. Both are guided by ADKAR. Let me explain.

Here is assessing my readiness to change Prosci style:

“Miss Gramiak, do you know you could lose some weight?”  Yes doctor, I am painfully aware EVERY DAY that I need to lose a significant amount of weight. Thanks for pointing that out. Awareness? Check.

“Don’t you want to lose weight? Then you can shop in more stores” Well, yes I do. Like nothing else. Who in their right mind would say they are perfectly happy being significantly overweight and limited by their body size? Desire? Check.

“You know, weight loss is really like basic math…eat less and move more.”  Again, thank you Dr Obvious. If you read my patient information sheet you will see I have an MPH which means I spent quite a bit of time studying the impacts of healthy eating, regular physical activity, and stress management. I KNOW it works…significant evidence exists to prove it. Now doing it myself…that’s another story. And what I don’t already know right now, I can easily access on the Internet or by talking to friends, etc. Knowledge? Check.

“All you need to do is buy a good pair of shoes and walk 30 minutes a day. Move more than you do now and you will feel better.” Gosh Dr Obvious, I know how to walk….but do I want to? (going back to desire here) I know that walking will make me sweat…can’t do that during the day. Am I able to schedule some time before or after work to do it?  Probably. Ability? Check.

“Just keep up the good work. You will feel great so that will motivate you to keep going. If you need to, buy yourself a treat when you reach a small goal.” Wow, Dr Obvious. That was really inspiring…because changing your life is that easy. So glad we had this talk. I do like your idea of buying stuff to reward my success and keep going.  Reinforcement? Check.

I think I can take the real brilliance of ADKAR and make a whole series of posts this week. Until then, remember that you have to do something different to get something different. Try walking through the ADKAR steps…how does your story fit? If you are skipping a step, your “something different” is to go back and take it one at a time.


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