Change Management psychology #3: motivation – invitation – ability

Change Management psychology - Blog 3- Joost Ardts - SuccessDay

Tips and tricks. If you open a magazine or newsletter on change management, you are bound to see articles listing five, seven or more tips concerning advice on change management. Such as how to make sure your digital transformation runs smoothly, how to ensure the implementation of the HRIS is a success, or how to ensure the organizational change leads to the envisioned synergy. And often it seems that these tips state the obvious.

But if it was really that simple, why is it that most change projects take forever, are seen as unsuccessful or are even abandoned after a while? Maybe it would help to understand the psychology behind these tips, and learn how they can really support the work we do. In this series, each blog will deal with a specific tip and explain why it works from a psychological perspective. Here’s the last blog of the series: #3. Let’s take a look behind the scenes.

# 3 Motivation – Invitation – Ability

We have chunked the project into manageable pieces (blog 1) and have aligned our change efforts according to the four stages of the commitment curve (blog 2). So we are in good shape, right? Or is there something missing?

Let’s take the perspective of the employee (‘the end-user’). If we apply Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior, we know that people only do what we hope they’ll do when the three elements Motivation – Invitation – Ability are in place:

  1. Motivation. Also known as a positive attitude. This is an individual’s belief that the new system will benefit them by making their work easier, more efficient and will add value;
  2. Invitation. Also known as a positive subjective norm. This is the perception that an important person or group of people (e.g., co-workers, your manager) will approve and encourage the new system;
  3. Ability. Also known as perceived behavioral control. This is an individual’s belief of their ability to perform with the new system.

Change activities

Understanding the importance of these elements and how they translate into employees’ needs during a digital transformation, helps to facilitate the change. It can be of great value to know how to decide which change activities to organize for each of the four stages of the commitment curve (Awareness – Understanding – Acceptance – Commitment).

These activities can include the following:

  • communicating the “why” during the awareness stage,
  • communicating the “what” by providing a video sneak preview of the HRIS during the understanding stage (Motivation),
  • involving change-champions, ambassadors; celebrating successes (Invitation),
  • training each stakeholder group (Ability) during the acceptance stage.


It’s important to determine how to intervene when things don’t go as planned. We can ask ourselves questions like: should we train more (increase Ability), explain more (improve Motivation) or involve more role models (Invite)? Or organize other change interventions, like posters and newsletters, a short video to provide a sneak preview, or the use of a digital adoption tool such as WalkMe?

For those who have read all three blogs, you might wonder: is this all there is to know about change management, especially in case of a digital transformation? No, it isn’t. But the three elements of chunking, commitment curve and theory of planned behavior do form the cornerstones of good change management.

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Joost - change manager - SuccessDay

Joost Ardts

Independent consultant and interim manager, with over 20 years of HR experience in Change Management, HR Project Management, Learning & Development and Talent Management.

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