Adaptation: A Few Words on Embracing Change

a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

2020 has brought a lot of change. I could end this blog with that statement alone and feel confident I’ve made my point. However, it’s not the act of the world around us becoming different that’s had the most impact on me, it’s the conscious observance of the adaptation that’s been most impressive. I’ve bore witness to the effects of change on the homebuilding industry for 15 years and will be the first to admit we are no stranger to disruption.

It would be inauthentic for me not to acknowledge my own personal 2020 journey in this conversation, so for those who don’t know me well — I’ll catch you up. In January, my husband passed away. My kids lost their dad. My 5 year old daughter and I moved into my parents’ house and my teenage step kids began living with their mom full time, where we used to see them several times per week. I made the decision to sell our home. We began navigating the “new normal” as a family. Enter: COVID-19.

But this is not about me. This is about adaptation.

When word first started to spread of coronavirus, the world was collectively puzzled. We slowed down to figure out what was going on and what all this change meant. Our world flipped upside down and we were unable to be productive in the same way we were used to being productive. This applies to everything. At home, at work, and in our personal and professional relationships.

For many in the homebuilding industry this means our corporate teams are dispersed to home offices, our sales teams are limited in their in-person contact with prospects, promotional events and grand openings have been canceled, and leads and dollars have been lost. In some states where residential construction is not considered essential, building starts are completely frozen. This means budgets are cut and jobs are lost. Builders are being forced to adapt and innovate.

The ONeil Interactive organization is fortunate in that we work remotely 40% of our week already and we have processes in place to strongly support distance collaboration and productivity. Our team seamlessly navigates our day-to-day using G-chat, Hangouts, Redbooth, Bitbucket, not to mention good old fashioned email, text, and phone conversations. Despite our penchant for digital communication, our team thrives off of each other’s energy and the knowledge we gain through osmosis of overheard conversations. We had to adapt and innovate.

Everyone adapts at their own pace. This isn’t hyperbole, there’s a theory made popular by communications professor Everett Rogers called the Diffusion of Innovations that explains societal adaptation to new ideas quite clearly and I feel the same system of thoughts applies to all human processing of “newness” in general.

If you’re a Simon Sinek fan, he does a great job of breaking it down in this video. In short, this theory explores how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Humans are the main source of proliferation for ideas, but there’s always a lag in how and when people embrace innovation.

0-2.5% = Innovators
2.5% – 16% = Early Adopters
16%-50% = Early Majority
50%-84% = Late Majority
84-100% = Laggards

For example, builders that fall into the Innovator and Early Adopters segments have invented ways to sell virtually end to end and make it easier for buyer to shop and even purchase online. We love how CBH Homes is taking the online shopping experience to the next level with a Buy it Now button, payment calculator, and Schedule a Video Tour option.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may be a Laggard if you’re still placing billboard ads and bandit signs. Stop…Please.

Adoption rate is also dependent on an individual’s decision to accept and implement innovation into their lives. This decision making process is not always voluntary. There are three types of innovation-decision according to Rogers.

Optional Innovation- Decision made by an individual who is in some way distinguished from others.

Collective Innovation- Decision made collectively by all participants.

Authority Innovation- Decision made for the entire social system by individuals in positions of influence or power.

There has been a place for all three amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities are deciding on restrictions and mandates to promote public safety, collective organizations are deciding how their businesses need to evolve in order to maintain prosperity, and individuals are deciding how willing they are to accept and implement change in their daily lives. Your model home hours may have been forced into by appointment only due to Authority Innovation and in-person interaction with your sales agents may have slowed due to Collective Innovation, but it’s Optional Innovation towards virtual selling and meeting buyers where they are (on their couch) that will shape the future of your business.

It is the builders who adapted during the 2008 mortgage crisis that endured the impact and made it out on the other side. It is builders who are taking their sales process virtual and trusting their employees. This is not the time to figure out how to shove your square peg business into the round, COVID-world hole. Embrace the power of innovative tools and processes that you may not have been open to 3 months ago, let your team members bring new ideas to the table, and be open to the concept that not all change is bad, even if it’s hard. Adapting now will make your organization better suited to selling in not only the COVID world but also push you into the forefront of the post-COVID world.

Megan English

Megan English

Vice President

A homebuilding industry veteran and a marketer at heart, Megan makes it her mission get to the core of what you're trying to say and then find the best way to say it online. If you can get a few leads and laughs in the process, mission complete.