Ability is the fourth building block of the Prosci ADKAR Model, a simple but effective model for individual change made up of five building blocks of change:


Ability is the stage in an individual’s change process where the change actually occurs. Ability is defined by an individual demonstrating the required changes such that overall expected performance results are achieved.

The Difference Between Knowledge and Ability

While knowledge and ability can seem similar, there can be a very large gap between the two. While someone can gain the knowledge about a new skill (the tools needed, the process, the proper technique), it may take much longer for this knowledge to translate into ability in terms of performance.  

There is often a large gap between knowledge and ability. Ensure that in addition to training to impart knowledge, employees are given sufficient tools for building their own ability. This includes hands-on practice, support from coaches and the availability to network and work with others who have made the change successfully.

Fostering Ability

Helping individuals successfully build ability involves:

  • Practice
  • Time
  • Coaching or role-modeling behavior
  • Access to right tools
  • Feedback

Potential Challenges and Resisting Factors

  • Inadequate time available to develop skills
  • Lack of support
  • Existing habits contrary to the desired behavior
  • Psychological blocks 
  • Limitations in physical abilities
  • Individual capabilities (personal limitations)

Tactics for Fostering Ability

  • Direct involvement of coaches
  • Access to subject matter experts
  • Performance monitoring
  • Hands-on practice during training
  • Availability of expert resources to help employees

By understanding the difference between knowledge and ability, you can help employees not only learn new behaviors and skills required by a change, but make sure they can put that knowledge into practice. This ultimately allows true change to be realized at both the individual and organizational level. 

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