Why the ADKAR Blueprint is a Game Changer for Change
Written by Lisa Kempton
Updated: January 18, 2024
Published: September 15, 2021
The ADKAR Blueprint is an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use starting point for change management planning. As the backbone of change management, the ADKAR Blueprint supports your ability as a change management practitioner to scale the ADKAR Model for organizational change, rightsize planning for small changes, customize planning for differently impacted groups, and more. Here’s why it’s a game changer for change.
The ADKAR Blueprint Is Part of
the Prosci Methodology
The ADKAR Blueprint is a simple and scalable guide, oriented toward people, that enables the change practitioner to identify at a high level the milestone dates, expected gaps and initial actions required to build each of the ADKAR elements for a change.
When you apply the Prosci 3-Phase Process to a change, creating an ADKAR Blueprint is the first activity in the Plan and Act stage of Phase 2 – Manage Change.
Ready to build advanced skills with the Prosci ADKAR Model? Learn to apply the ADKAR Blueprint to prevent resistance, build readiness and more when you attend the ADKAR Model Mastery Program.
ADKAR Blueprint vs. Change Management Plans
The ADKAR Blueprint provides a template for capturing, in an organized and actionable way, the essential information needed to support ADKAR transitions for individuals and groups impacted by a change.
For each ADKAR element, you estimate the effort required to build the element, identify the actions required, define the roles needed to complete the actions, and estimate the start and finish dates. By building an ADKAR Blueprint for your change, you focus and streamline your work to support people through their transitions, so they can successfully adopt and use the change.
Although the ADKAR Blueprint can serve as a plan in some circumstances, it is not one of the full change management plans. Note the differences:
4 Ways To Use an ADKAR Blueprint
An ADKAR Blueprint can be used several ways to focus and streamline your change management planning:
1. As a standalone guide for small changes
An ADKAR Blueprint may be the only plan you need for a low-risk change, such as a small, incremental change impacting a change-ready group. It is also scalable. You can have 12 activities in your ADKAR Blueprint or 100 activities—make it as small or large as your change requires.
2. As a way to accommodate differently impacted groups
When you have a change for which the impacts are similar across a range of groups, a single ADKAR Blueprint is probably a good starting place. But what if there’s a fairly big difference in how people are impacted? Now you can create one ADKAR Blueprint for the organization and additional ADKAR Blueprints for each impacted group. In this way, you can incrementally increase the number of activities using ADKAR Blueprints without triggering the need for full change management plans.
3. As a simplified “plan” for novice practitioners
Some of the most meaningful feedback we've gotten from novice change management practitioners is that they found it difficult to know when and how to begin developing change management plans. Starting out with the five full plans we prescribed in the past was just too much because they didn’t know which plan to focus on developing first. The ADKAR Blueprint was created to provide an easy-to-understand starting point for planning the application of change management to a change.
When we talked to practitioners, even before we built the ADKAR Blueprint, they often described simplified versions of change management plans they used. Some called them “ADKAR plans.” Intuitively, practitioners were already creating pared-down plans on their own to get started. So, the ADKAR Blueprint is an innovation based on what members of our practitioner community were already doing. We've simply acknowledged that and built it into the enhanced Prosci Methodology.
4. As the foundation and guide for full change management plans
The Prosci Methodology puts the individual at the center of successful change. If your change requires more than an ADKAR Blueprint, using the ADKAR Blueprint as your foundation ensures that all change management plans you create are rooted in supporting individuals to achieve their ADKAR transitions.
The Prosci Methodology describes Core and Extend plans you can use on your change. The four recommended Core plans are the Sponsor Plan, People Manager Plan, Communications Plan and Training Plan. Extend Plans are the potential additional plans you can apply to your change, such as a Resistance Management Plan or a Change Agent Network Plan.
Using the ADKAR Blueprint, you can map all the required actions to the five ADKAR elements. Start by brainstorming all the actions required to build Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.
To move from the ADKAR Blueprint to a more specific plan, go back through the actions and tag them. Some actions might belong in a Communication Plan. Some of the actions need to be completed by your sponsor and belong in a Sponsor Plan. In some cases, an action might belong in two plans. This is the mental process you go through to determine whether you need a more robust plan.
In some cases, you might take a single action and expand it. For example, your Awareness action might expand into six or seven different actions in your Communication Plan. So, it's a way to get clearer, more detailed and refined.
Keep in mind that using Core and Extend Plans will result in the need for multiple plans, potentially four or more. But by starting your planning with the ADKAR Blueprint, you will be well positioned to decide which plans your change requires to ensure successful outcomes. You can also use the ADKAR Blueprint as a way to summarize the required actions for an organization or group with a low tolerance for detailed plans (e.g., senior executives).
ADKAR Blueprint Offers a
Quick Start and Quick Win
The ADKAR Model has always resonated with people because it is people focused, intuitive and effective. We all know that organizational outcomes are the collective result of individual change. Managing change by starting with the ADKAR Blueprint requires us to focus on what is needed to achieve a successful change one person at a time. The ADKAR Blueprint offers real-word flexibility, especially when we don’t need or want all the change management plans. And people love that it offers a quick start and the potential for a quick win. It really is a game changer for change.