Embedding Change

Embedding Change

The Human Side of Transition

Implementing changes, whether ICT related or not, does not mean that people's behavior will also automatically change and that all employees within an organization will understand the changes and deal with them efficiently. An organization can only change if the people also want, and are able, to adopt the intended change. They must be ready for change and perceive the added value. This is the only way to succeed as an organization. Managing the “human side” of transitions is an approach that has growing in importance in recent years and rightly so.
For any fundamental change, interpreting in practice what the human side of change needs will mean discussing Training, User Adoption and Change Management at some point. The trap lies in the potential to confuse these terms, or even worse, conflate them. Though the three disciplines do share the same goal, namely that alongside the technical and operational initiatives involved in a change project, a smooth transition is ensured for the employees, each discipline focuses on a distinct phase in the human process of change. The success of a transition is partly determined by an awareness of the differences between Training, User Adoption and Change Management, and by including all of them as completely as possible.

Embedding Change

What Makes for a Successful Transition?

Any change within an organization will affect employees to some extent. Changes to organizational structures, processes, daily work practices, methodologies, software systems and other aspects are implemented with the aim of making the organization function more successfully. This can only be achieved if each individual member of staff completes the transition successfully, and is actually able to put the improvements into practice, and continues to do so. The determining factor in achieving success is the individual capacity for change of the people themselves. For every employee who drops out of the process before, during or after the transition, the total level of success as originally intended will crumble a little further. Even the most successful software implementations will only be of minor benefit if half of the users are unable or unwilling to use the new application. What really matters is the people. Therefore, a transition may only be considered a success when both the technical and the human aspects have been successfully designed, implemented and monitored.

The Five Psychological Phases of Any Change

The Realdolmen approach to transition projects is based on the ADKAR® model from Prosci®. This model states that when experiencing change, every individual goes through five psychological phases. Whether it's a change in their personal life or at work, it makes no real difference.

As 80% of your business's success is directly related to the individual success of your employees, the Prosci® framework strongly emphasizes the human face of change, following the five consecutive phases people go through when confronted by change.

Together, these five phases, which form the acronym ADKAR, clarify the change process:

  • Awareness: understanding why a certain change is necessary.
  • Desire: the will to support and participate in the change.
  • Knowledge: obtaining the knowledge needed on how to change.
  • Ability: being able to apply the acquired knowledge in practice.
  • Reinforcement: anchoring the change and adopting new habits.

To implement a change successfully, all these elements must be present, one after the other in the natural sequence. For example, there's little point in training employees (Knowledge) until they are aware of the need for change (Awareness). The factors determining the intensity and speed of each of these five phases are of course different for each individual. An employee who is involved in a solution from its inception will complete the Desire phase faster than someone who has the solution imposed on them without input or consultation. You will most effectively implement solutions by defining the different phases and determining which phase employees are in. Additionally, the ADKAR® model may be used to evaluate why a specific change did not work out and determine subsequent measures.

Why Training, User Adoption and Change Management Will Make Your Change Successful

For a successful transition, it is always best to consider each of Training, User Adoption and Change Management. However, what are the differences between these disciplines and how do they complement each other?



Clearly, training employees is nothing new. In most organizations, this aspect is included in the plans and budgets for any change project. The purpose of training is to efficiently provide employees with the knowledge and skills they need to feel at home in their new situation and to perform to the best of their ability.
Among other things, Realdolmen Education focuses on the provision of standard training courses (public schedule or on demand) and the set-up and implementation of extensive, customized training programs.
In the ADKAR® model, training maps to the Knowledge phase. This means it is only a means to achieve the third part of the change process.

User Adoption

It should not simply be assumed that users will be able to work effectively with a new application immediately after they have completed their training. Learning a completely new way of working often involves a process comprising a number of different steps and iterations.

User Adoption consists of four different steps, each step comprising a number of sub-components that can be combined according to project type, target audience, scope, corporate culture, etc.


  • Winning attention: how do we make sure that the end user is aware of the planned modification? How can we demonstrate its relevance to their work situation?
  • Cultivating basic concepts: how do we ensure that the end user knows the basic functions of the new solution? How do end users learn how to use the new solution?
  • Enlivening applicability: how does the new work method fit the specific circumstances of an individual or team? How will end users work within the framework of the new solution?
  • Making it real: in this last phase, we ensure that the old working method is truly left behind. All data has been migrated, the ways in which the team and the individual will work are defined.

To steer this process in the right direction, Realdolmen has produced a User Adoption Framework based on Michael Sampson's User Adoption Strategies. Our User Adoption specialists devise the right approach in consultation with you and then implement the project.

In the ADKAR® model, User Adoption focuses primarily on the Knowledge and Ability phases. The first step of the User Adoption Framework, Winning Attention, is of course aligned with the Awareness phase, but on no account does it replace the first two phases of the ADKAR® model.

Change Management

Any change requires a willingness to change on the part of the organization, the management and the employees. The actions required to move from the current situation to a new situation must be aligned with the organization and its culture, the employees, the agreed timing, the historical context, the potential resistance and the intended result.

Change Management involves far more than simply helping employees use a new procedure or application as efficiently as possible. It's more than just communicating in the event of a crisis. It involves managing a change from the emergence of the need or reason for the change until long after the solution has been rolled out. This requires clear plans and initiatives with regard to:

  • Training
  • Coaching for all roles involved
  • Avoiding and managing resistance
  • Visible sponsorship
  • Effective communication

In summary, Change Management is:

  • The application of a structured tool set to guide the human face of change towards a desired result.
  • A leadership skill to enable change within an organization
  • A strategic competence to increase the willingness to change and the responsiveness

Change Management relates to all five phases of the ADKAR® model.

A fundamental difference in approach

This positioning of Training, User Adoption and Change Management means the approach to and choice of appropriate initiatives will be fundamentally different for each situation. The overview below compares these three disciplines across a number of crucial aspects:


The right mix and proportion of the three components for your organization and the change that you are planning will depend on a number of different factors, including:

  • Which initiatives and actions have already been implemented, are in progress or are planned?
  • What progress has the project or implementation already made?
  • What expertise is currently present in your organization?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for the long-term success of the project?
  • What is the definition of project success?

Our specialists are eager to help you make the right choices.

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