Represents a person’s understanding of the nature of change, why the change is being made and the risk of not changing.


Defining awareness of the need for change, not simply awareness that a change is happening. This subtle nuance is an important distinction.


Awareness represents a person’s understanding of the change, why the change is being made and the risk of not changing.  Awareness includes information about the internal and external drivers that created the need for change, as well as “what’s in it for me?

Any successful change begins by answering one of the most basic questions about change: WHY? It is human nature to want to understand the reasoning behind an action or a required change.

Lack of awareness of the reason for change was cited as the primary source of employee resistance to the Best Practices in Change Management – 2016 Edition. This lack is caused by failure to communicate details of a change to employees. Ultimately, if an employee is unable to answer “what’s in it for me?” resistance is likely to occur, and when awareness is overlooked or ignored, projects face increased resistance, show progress and reduced return on investment. As on research participant said:

“Often employees are not opposed to a solution or a new way of doing work, but rather they resisted change because no one made a clear and compelling case as to why the change was needed.”

The elements of the Prosci ADKAR Model fall into a natural order of how one person experiences change.  It is tempting to skip awareness and jump straight ahead to desire and knowledge. Building awareness established the groundwork upon which individuals can make personal choices about change.  Desire or knowledge cannot come before awareness, because it is the awareness of the need for change that stimulates our desire or triggers our resistance to change.

When it is readily visible to employees that an organization is in trouble, building awareness will be relatively easy.  In contrast, it is often more difficult to build awareness when an organization is already succeeding. Change leaders will need to create a very compelling case and make the reasons for change blatantly evident. If they are responding to an opportunity, they will need to be clear in communication this and sharing th reasons for change.

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