Explore the Levels of Change Management

Using the ADKAR Model as a Common Language for Change

Written by Susie Taylor

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The lack of a common language for change is problematic in change management. When people assign different meanings to the same word or use different terms to describe the same thing, they struggle to decipher each other's language. This leads to frustration, misunderstanding and decreased efficiency.
Have you heard of Abbott and Costello's classic skit, "Who's on First?" If not, I encourage you to check it out. It's a prime example of what can happen when people do not share a common language. The frustrating yet hilarious miscommunication stems from the comedians saying the same words but intending to communicate completely different things. Although it makes for great comedy, miscommunication often causes real difficulties during organizational changes.


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The Value of a Common Language for Change
in Change Management

A common language for change is an inclusive set of words and phrases used to describe and understand change. Because change is often seen as ambiguous and difficult to understand, using a varied and inconsistent language to discuss change compounds the problem.

Establishing a common language around change enables you to:

  • Help people see change as a concrete process with relatable, manageable stages.
  • Clarify and articulate what change means within your unique organization.
  • Establish a shared lexicon to removes the risk of unique, but potentially incorrect, interpretations.
  • Streamline conversations around change, enabling efficient and effective conversations across groups, projects, and the entire organization.

The Prosci ADKAR Model

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What the Change Management Research Says

“ADKAR has allowed us to more openly discuss change and manage change at all levels. It has prompted thought and caused more questions to be asked (a good thing) throughout the organization. Just for these reasons, we have increased our ability to deal with and adapt to change.”
—Applications of ADKAR Study participant

In our Applications of ADKAR research study, we asked users of the Prosci ADKAR Model to share why they established the ADKAR Model as their organizational common language for change, how they built the common language, and what the results of this effort were. The full, deep-dive report also features use cases, including a case study of how OGE Energy established their common language for change and saw impressive organizational results.  Subscribe to Research Hub for access to the report, along with Prosci's growing library of change management research. 

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