“If You Build It, They Will Come” Only Works in the Movies. Here’s Why.

  • November 19, 2021
Happy people at work

"If you build it, they will come." Your mind wandered to a well-manicured baseball diamond surrounded by rows of majestic corn stalks as far as the eye can see, didn't it? Thank you, Kevin Costner! The movie from which this iconic imagery is lifted is a metaphor for the greater message — big dreams require big changes in one's mind, outlook, or beliefs. Wouldn't it be great if your business or project could undergo a seamless organizational change to a future state simply by making it available? All you have to do is put it out there, and everyone will jump on board, be overjoyed to do it, and sunshine and rainbows surround your team.

Well, newsflash.

Humans are generally not interested in making changes.

You must be thinking, "That's not true." Unfortunately, it is. In a Forbes poll of top executives, 37% believed that their team felt most comfortable in the status quo, without change. It turns out 45% of frontline workers said they like the status quo — a lot. That's almost half. Your next project or corporate acquisition may demand that all your employees embrace a new paradigm, a new process, or a new way of thinking vital to your organization's success, sustainability, and future. Only half of your team will be willing to take the plunge. The other half will fight it tooth and nail. Not an appealing prospect.

So, what do you do? Your first job is to understand how the change will affect your team and where the resistance is likely to originate. According to Darryl Conner's Organizational Change Model, based on the work of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, there are eight stages of transition for organizational change that employees will deal with:

  1. Stability
  2. Immobilization
  3. Denial
  4. Anger
  5. Bargaining
  6. Depression
  7. Testing
  8. Acceptance

If this sounds like the stages of grief, you are getting a good idea of what employees go through when a change (whether small or fundamental) is made in an organization. Just because a change is essential to the team, the company or the customer experience doesn't mean it won't be met with criticism, denial, hostility, and blame. It does mean that if you can see their resistance for what it is, you can help them through the stages required to let go of the past and move towards the future. Resistance around change can take many forms and can also have many triggers. A change could mean fear of being prepared for the new system, not being in charge the same ways as before, or feeling exposed to a lack of knowledge about new technology. No one wants to be forced into change adoption when they don't feel secure.

So, if building it and hoping for the best doesn't work, what does?

To make significant changes in a work environment, you need more than hope as a strategy. It will require belief. Just as Kevin Costner's character Ray Kinsella worked tirelessly to get people to believe in his vision, we must invest time and resources to help our workforce make the journey and believe in the outcome. People change from their hearts and then their heads. We need to think about the whole human — not just the "worker" — when we ask for people to make a change.

Not all change is scary and uncertain

In the simplest terms, change is the act of modifying or altering someone or something. We all have the desire to change something but not always the will to do it. The lack of follow-through you might experience in this circumstance is called intrinsic change. For example, let’s say you want to lose a few pounds, but you can't stay away from the potato chips. Your desire is there, but your willpower is on vacation. Most of us are intimately familiar with this one. Now apply this to asking/requiring your team or organization to adopt a new process or hierarchy. You can build it, but they won't accept it until your team or organization believes in it. Your field of dreams will not be realized.

In her recent blog post, Four Elements of The Change Journey, Nikki Milgate states, "How individuals cope with ongoing change will directly result in their work performance and the support they garner from employers." Teammates may struggle with change, which is normal, but ignoring it or assuming it will get better with time is not the best path forward. Simply knowing that change must happen does not always translate to adoption.

On the bright side, not all changes require significant intervention to be successful. Another driver of change that seems to convert to actual change is when someone has a fear of missing out — otherwise known as FOMO — this inspires them to overcome the fear of the unknown and move forward! Take, for instance, the latest iPhone. The newest model will inevitably have unique features and a modified user experience that many people are willing to figure out. It is a learning curve to some degree that you have no qualms about the undertaking. This re-invention works for Apple because they create new tools that people desire to be associated with and the social pressure to belong. We get it. You're only human. But absent FOMO working in your favor, how else do you get your company to embrace change? A robust Organizational Change Management plan is the right way to go. And that's what we do at NTT DATA Services.

Let's talk!

Organizational culture is a beast built from the ground up by individuals and their actions; this change is possible by the decisions made at the top of the house. Our Workforce Readiness Consulting Practice uses the mindset of change to transform a work environment by leveraging the human side of the business.

Kim Curley, Business Readiness Practice Leader, outlines the fundamental questions you need to ask about your business and the change you want to implement in her blog post, The Future of the Workforce Is Here, Are You Ready?

"What policies and practices are in place? Which behaviors are recognized and rewarded? Do you expect innovation and make room for failure?
How do leaders hold themselves accountable to each other and their teams to either feed or starve a culture?"

Change is about what will be different and how that new structure may change work culture and expectations. If this seems like a lot to contemplate, NTT DATA Services can help. Our approach to Organizational Change Management works. Here's why: Designing and implementing culturally aligned, right-sized solutions to ensure the workforce is ready, willing, and able to succeed in a future state is key to NTT DATA Services' approach. This model gives us the ability to deliver focused, cost-effective OCM efforts to help ensure successful adoption along with streamlined OCM Services to provide targeted, scalable support. We're here to help you achieve your return on investment by driving adoption.

Accelerate your results by leveraging our behavior science-based OCM methodology to drive alignment and adoption. Contact us. We're happy to help you on your journey to building it and getting your team on board.

The rapidly changing workforce underscores the need for human-centric, digital-forward solutions for organizations in all industries. Our Workforce Readiness Consulting practice helps drive organizational success with future-focused talent and change strategies. Learn more about how we help our clients thrive at the human side of business.

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Pamela Raymond

Pamela Raymond is a Principal Consultant in the Workforce Readiness Consulting Practice at NTT DATA Services. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, she currently calls Raleigh, North Carolina home. Pamela is experienced in cross-functional marketing, large-scale program management and is a Prosci® Certified Change Practitioner. She is the Communications Lead of the Carolinas Chapter of the THRIVE Employee Resource Group (ERG) at NTT DATA Services and is active in her community. In her spare time, Pamela enjoys writing and will have a book published in 2022.

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