Change Management – A Key Consideration when Decarbonising your Business

21st January 2024

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alex swanson anthesis

Alex Swanson



One of the roadblocks for many businesses in starting or progressing their climate journey is how to engage their stakeholders. The mere thought of change often breeds inertia, but for successful change on this scale, buy-in from stakeholders across the business is needed.  From the Board to senior management and at a departmental level, to the supply chain, customers and even communities may need to be engaged.   

Organisational change management can play an essential role in this process, to help organisations wanting to embark on – or progressing sustainability initiatives, to successfully transition to a decarbonised business. Effective change management involves a systematic approach to dealing with organisational change, in this case – in the transition from traditional carbon-intensive business operations to more sustainable and eco-friendly practices.  

One change management framework that can be used in this context is the Prosci ADKAR model, which provides a structured and comprehensive approach to organisational change management. 

Change management framework – ProSci ADKAR  

The Prosci ADKAR framework is a model used for organisational change management to help businesses and individuals successfully navigate through change. ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, and each of these elements represents a key component of successful change. The model is useful because it provides a structured and holistic approach to change management and helps to ensure that changes are implemented effectively and sustained over the long term. 

adkar change management model infographic graph

These elements provide a roadmap for organisations to follow in order to successfully implement change, including in the context of decarbonising their business. 

  1. Awareness: The first step of change management from the ProSci ADKAR framework is to raise awareness of the need for change and the benefits of decarbonisation. This involves creating an understanding of the impact of carbon emissions on the environment and the reasons why the organisation needs to take action to reduce its carbon footprint. 
  2. Desire: In this step, the organisation must create a desire for change among employees and stakeholders. This can be achieved by engaging with stakeholders, raising awareness of the benefits of decarbonisation, and demonstrating the impact that the change will have on the organisation and its stakeholders. 
  3. Knowledge: The next change management step is to ensure that employees have the knowledge and skills required to support the transition to a more sustainable and eco-friendly way of working. This can involve training, coaching, and mentoring, as well as the provision of resources and support. 
  4. Ability: The fourth step is to provide employees with the ability to implement the changes required for decarbonisation. This can involve changes to processes, systems, and organisational structures, as well as the deployment of new technologies and practices. It is important to provide employees with the necessary resources, support, and tools to enable them to perform their roles effectively in the new environment. 
  5. Reinforcement: The final step of ProSci ADKAR change management framework, is to reinforce the changes made during the decarbonisation process. This involves creating a supportive environment that encourages the continued use of sustainable practices and technologies. This can include incentives and rewards for employees, as well as ongoing training and support, to ensure that this organisational change and new way of working is fully embedded into the organisational culture. 

Your organisational change management strategy 

The ProSci ADKAR framework provides a comprehensive approach to change management in the context of organisational decarbonisation.  

By following this roadmap, organisations can minimise disruption, ensure a smooth transition, and maximise the benefits of decarbonisation and emissions reductions, for their employees, stakeholders, and the environment.  

The key elements of the framework – Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement – provide a structured and systematic approach that organisations can follow to successfully implement organisational change and contribute to a more sustainable future. 

As your organisation undertakes the inevitable decarbonisation journey, it will greatly benefit from structured and strategic, organisational change management as this comprehensive approach helps organisations to ensure that changes are implemented effectively and sustained over the long term. This can result in improved business outcomes, increased employee engagement, and greater overall success.