Don’t Fear Change, Embrace It

Posted By: Richard Evans, LBC on March 26, 2018

Richard Evans, LBC, is a Lean Coach, Certified Training Within Industry (TWI) Instructor, and President of JR Lean. He is also the President of AME Canada and Immediate Past Chair of the Lean Certification Oversight and Appeals Committee.

Richard Evans

Human beings don’t like change. We are very comfortable with the status quo and any change takes us out of our comfort zones. In my time as a Lean Coach, I’ve been exposed to constant change, which makes me reflect that we are not very good at managing it. Kaizen (good change) is prevalent in all our lives, and we constantly drive to increase the amount of kaizen daily. Over the years, I have experienced many organizations that are bewildered as to why their programs or projects have failed. I challenge them to reflect on which element of Change Management they failed at.

Managing change is actually very simple, if you understand why human beings act the way we do. One such Change Management Model explains it all— and that is ADKAR.


ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement, the five elements of Change Management. Every improvement we embark on is a change. The acceptance of that change depends upon how folks are introduced to it, how they react to it, how they are made aware of what it is, how they handle it, and how they are encouraged to abide by it.

I use it to challenge organizations to find out where they fail. Take 5S for example. We all realize it’s a fundamental necessity to be organized, but many fail at it. Why? I write ADKAR on a flip chart, and ask them, “What part of ADKAR didn’t you do well?” Just imagine the looks around the table when they reflect on how they managed the change. Most say, “All of them.” Then we get down to the task of closing the gaps. This very simple analogy can be applied to any type of change in our lives. Just test it.

Job Instruction Pocket Card

One such test is when we train someone. Usually it’s new to them, so it’s a change. How effective is your typical training? Do you take them through the five elements of change? More often than not you don’t. Traditional ‘buddy type’ training is a very poor way to get someone to learn, but it’s happening every day, in many organizations. I’m a Certified TWI Job Instructor Trainer, and it was a few years ago that I connected the dots between ADKAR and Job Instruction (JI). JI uses a simple Four-Step method: 1) Prepare the worker, 2) Present the operation, 3) Try out performance, and 4) Follow up. If we compare ADKAR with the Four-Step method, we find huge similarities: Awareness and Desire are satisfied in Step 1; Knowledge is Step 2; Ability is Step 3; and Reinforcement is Step 4.

TWI was developed at the start of WWII to solve a shortage of skilled labour in the factories. Industry experts did some R&D (no, not Research and Development, but Rob and Duplicate). The Four-Step process came from a book in 1919 called “The Instructor, the Man, and the Job” by Charles R. Allen of the J. B. Lippincott Company. How prolific this turned out to be! We can always learn from history, and this is a shining example.

The next time you ponder on why a new change has not been accepted, or implemented well, look to ADKAR for your answer.

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Tags: ADKAR, "change management", "job instruction", Lean, "Richard Evans", trainer, "training within industry"