5 Elements of Change – The 5E Model

5 Elements of Change – The 5E Model

It’s no coincidence that the vast majority of change initiatives within big organisations either run into trouble, take too long, become a money pit or deliver lacklustre outcomes. Frustrating though it can be in those situations, if you start to understand what’s happening it begins to make sense. And from that place the road to better outcomes and a much faster pace becomes a lot clearer.

Watch our short video for 5 simple questions you can ask of any change in order to understand what is going on: 

The 5E model was borne out of our experience supporting clients during a period of major disruption, fuelled by the rapid shift to online media consumption and digital business. We became curious why big organisations struggle so much to adapt quickly, even when their very survival depends on it. In an era of increasingly rapid change, agility is clearly becoming critical for survival. And the news headlines continue to prove that size, longevity or reputation offer no protection against market forces.

Building upon the existing change models and best practice such as ADKAR, Kotter’s 8 Steps, AIM, Lewin, Kubler-Ross’ Change Curve, Nudge Theory, it also incorporates specific research into human behaviour and change in collaboration with UWE Psychological sciences in Bristol. The aim of the model and the associated change readiness assessment is to make the topic of change accessible for all. Change, especially in a business context, is very often made far harder than it needs to be. 

The 5E model focuses attention on the fundamental elements that make up a holistic model for effective change, just 5 elements that, when performing well, are proven through science and practical experience to deliver successful outcomes. They are hard to measure so they are often overlooked; the good news though is that this represents a huge opportunity for most organisations and most change initiatives. And now with purpose built Change Readiness Assessment Tools we can measure stakeholder sentiment and therefore predict engagement using these fundamental elements as a framework. 

The 5 fundamental elements are as follows:


This is the basic fuel for change. It’s about creating a desire. We all need a good reason to change something, especially if it is important to us. Staying as we are normally feels more comfortable unless we are dissatisfied, and even then can feel like the safer option. Change involves risk and so the reason to do it needs to be compelling enough for everyone involved or affected to make that risk worth taking. Read More


With any change there will be forces that slow it down. Examples you may recognise are cultural norms “that will never work here”, organisational concerns such as threats to power bases or complex technology that is perceived as hard to change. Fear of losing something or of failing are other examples. Enabling is about understanding these forces and building strategies to reduce them and minimise their impact. Think of it as reducing the friction so that the change can move forward more freely. Read more


Even the most well intentioned and energised changes can become chaotic if they don’t feel achievable and the journey and progress are not clear. This in turn can lead to confusion and conflict very quickly. The focus here is on clarity of how the journey will be taken, what needs to be done in appropriate detail, how the change is progressing and what decisions need to be taken and by whom. Read more


Regardless of the situation, we all need time to adjust to any change and to embed the new behaviours that are required. When the pressure is on, there can be a tendency to revert back to what we are comfortable with. Consideration needs to be given to this, focusing on reinforcing, encouraging and rewarding the new behaviours and making the old ways hard or impossible to revert back to. Read more


In our experience the key to success is continuously watching, listening and learning. Continual evaluation of the other four elements is critical and works best when honest feedback is encouraged, especially when the news isn’t what we want to hear. Situations change all the time, especially where people are concerned so it’s important to keep the radar up and keep an open dialogue. Read more

Any change that is successful will be performing well on each of these elements. Conversely, with changes that don’t go so well, it’s possible to identify at least one of these elements that is either missing or has relatively little attention being paid to it. Don’t take my word for it though, test it for yourself using changes you have been involved in or are in the middle of right now. 

You can also try one of our assessments below to make it easier, whether it’s a change at work or for your own personal growth and transformation.