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CDOT SUCCESS: Boulder Team Uses ADKAR Daily to Promote Open Two-way Communication

by Laura Parsons, Process Improvement Intern
March 5, 2018

Abra Geissler

Abra Geissler

Abra Geissler is a professional engineer for CDOT in the Boulder area. As a graduate in of CDOT's Change Management Certification course, Geissler believes that "if there is a better way to do something, [the Boulder team] is open to it!"

By applying the change management awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement (ADKAR) model into daily management practice, the Boulder team places an emphasis on the driving force behind the organizational change: the people.

How is change management currently being applied in your department?

I try to apply change management methodology whenever possible. The Greeley-South Project team is 20% into the design phase for a project that will widen I-25 to have an express lane. We are trying to have open channels of communication between the Project Manager, the team, and the contractor so that everyone is aware and on the same page for the design and construction phases.

How do you apply awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement (ADKAR) to your daily work?

Early and often communication is the most important step in building awareness. It establishes roles, clarifies what is expected, and identifies ways to overcome barriers. For example, when an employee is overwhelmed by an aspect of the project, we discuss the issue and try to establish a step-by-step plan. Taking a personal approach to meeting goals is best for building desire. When projects are complete, our team has after action discussions that focus on what employees found most beneficial and what they would like to see done differently in the future.


awareness of the need for change
desire to support the change
knowledge of how to change
ability to demonstrate skills & behaviors
reinforcement to make the change stick

How do you overcome barriers to change?

People have established habits and ways that they like to do projects. Even personalities, such as being an introvert or an extrovert, can dictate how hesitant or accepting someone is to a change. That is why I believe that building desire has to be an individual approach. The “What's in it for me?” is not the same for each individual and cannot be built the same way for each person.

How has change management helped you personally?

I've been a PE II (Professional Engineer) for the past 15 months. Integrating change management into my own style of project management has helped me become a better manager by building self-awareness about what I am doing right and what my team is facing. If you aren't having open conversations and hearing what your team is struggling with, you can't address the root cause of a problem.

How does change management help your team?

For my team, the goal of incorporating change management is to build trust and synergy between the Project Manager, team, and contractor. If we are all on the same page, we can finish projects on time and on budget. Applying change management into our daily routine has led to better communication and improved our team trust.

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT?
Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hub on our Intranet!

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