Everyone is talking about “pivots”. But what does that mean? And how can a company successfully make a pivot during such a time of unrest? I recently delivered a workshop on the art of pivoting called “the power of the pivot“. You can access the video from the form on this page. It’s a critical skill needed to grow a business at any time, but especially during times of such uncertainty.
Businesses face challenges as we have never experienced. We have been on one wild ride. Most businesses have seen an impact on revenues. Some have lost customers. On average, most of my clients have seen a reduction of around 20%. Others have seen business traffic drop by 50% or more. The next 90 days are critical. And the biggest question is “will the economy (and my business) rebound?
Coming out of this pandemic, many are figuring out what they need to do to not only survive but to thrive on the other side of this. New methods of marketing and selling are going to be required. There will be changes to goods and services, or perhaps new ones developed altogether. Without a pivot, you will likely be left in the dust of your competitors.
What is a pivot?
The good news is that businesses are reopening and everyone I know is anxious to get things moving again. I’m working with several clients on how to get their activity levels back to pre-quarantine levels. And we are finding new, different, and creative ways of driving business back to their doors. But to do that, they must be willing to change, to pivot.
But what, exactly, is a pivot. I love the definition from basketball. (After all, I am in Kentucky, the centerstage of college hoops). Consider this.
The pivot is “a movement in which the player holding the ball may move in any direction with one foot, while keeping the other (the pivot foot ) in contact with the floor.”
There are several important aspects of this. And the most important one is that you have to keep your pivot foot planted. We’ll explore the business implication of this in a moment.
How can I pivot?
One of the most common topics is “how can I pivot?”. I believe it’s based on three very important principles:
- Keeping yourself grounded while pivoting. Keeping the most important things important.
- The pivot mindset. Developing a culture that embraces the pivot.
- Implementing a pivot. How to navigate change with your clients and your team.
Keeping your pivot foot planted
In basketball, if you move or drag your pivot foot, you will be called for “traveling” or “walking”. (NBA rules aside). There is a great parallel idea with the pivot in business. We must know where our feet are planted. What are the things in our business that we are “planted on”, and are not negotiable? Here are some examples:
Non-negotiables are those aspects of your business that you are unwilling to move. These may include:
- Values – These should always be carved in stone. Don’t ever waiver from your values or you have nothing to be planted on.
- Customer Segments/Industries – You may be dedicated to serving a specific market segment. Moving away from that may reduce your impact.
- Strategic Vision – Perhaps a pivot away from your strategy may weaken your long-term position. It may be worth a struggle today in order to hold true to where you want to be tomorrow.
Is it a good idea?
I like asking this question whenever you get excited about something. A few of my healthcare clients were debating their role in the post-COVID world. And one potential role is to provide COVID testing to their clients. The idea of playing an active role in the post-quarantine economy is an exciting thing to consider. It’s almost intoxicating. And then you ask yourself, “is it a good idea?”. Each of these clients eventually decided to leave testing to those best equipped for it and to not put their employees at any greater risk than they already were.
Impact on others
Consider the impact that this change will have on your key relationships. Much like the previous question, considering the potential impact on employees made these businesses choose not to provide COVID19 testing. There are other constituents you should consider as well. Will it impact current customers, business partners, suppliers, or family members? If the impact of a pivot is too great on any of these groups, you may want to reconsider.
Finally, the size and impact of the pivot should be considered. Pivoting to work from home is something nearly every business had to do. But other pivots are harder. Does it involve adding, changing, or removing a product or service? If so, that’s a significant impact.
As an example, one pivot I made was to offer weekly workshops at no charge to help people wrestle with the tough topics during the pandemic. This was a beneficial use of my time as well as those I was trying to reach. But as we began to re-enter a world of “normal”, I found that I didn’t have time to maintain the schedule of a weekly free webinar. So I moved it to bi-weekly. And then to monthly. I know that I can maintain a monthly schedule. But weekly just wasn’t realistic.
The Pivot Mindset
Pivoting comes naturally for some people. Pivoting, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is nothing more than the process of change. And some people are good at it. Others are not. You probably know which members of your team are good at accepting and even leading change. And you also know which ones almost lose their lunch when the idea of change is even suggested.
I was working with a coaching client a while back and I knew that she was not accepting of change. On the DISC assessment, she was a high “S”, which stands for Steadiness. People with this behavior trait prefer the status quo over change every day of the week. This client had an idea of how her business process could be better. But the idea of changing it, and talking to her boss about it, made her visibly sick to her stomach. She had absolutely no tolerance for the idea of change.
If you want to have an organization that is willing and eager to change, then you need to pay special attention to the people you hire, and the leaders you put in place. Team members like this one I mentioned would not help make change easy to implement. Of course, if you have a team of people all-to-willing to change on a dime, you might find that you can never settle into a good state.
Balance and recognition of behavior traits are what’s key here. A good leader has the pulse of his team and knows who to place in key roles during these types of shifts.
Implementing a Pivot
Finally, as I stated before, a pivot is nothing more than a change, a strategic change, that is. And implementing a pivot is nothing more than the practice of change management. It’s just that more things may come into play depending on the size of the pivot (change).
I teach a change management approach based on Gleischer’s Formula. I won’t go into all the detail here, but I’ll highlight the principles. The formula goes like this:
D * V * F > R
This mathematical formula is an inequality. The R on the right stands for “Resistance”. And all change (even pivots) will be faced with resistance. To overcome the resistance to the change, you must apply three things:
- D – Dissatisfaction – There must be a level of dissatisfaction with the status quo
- V – Vision – You must be able to paint a vision of how life will be better after the change is implemented
- F – First Steps – You must make it easy for them to get started down the road to change
If you apply these three variables, you can overcome resistance and lead your team in this change.
Are you wanting to make a pivot? Get started now. It’s the best time to do so. No event in our history has made this more clear.
Would you like help with implementing your change or assessing your team’s ability to whether it? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-724-0430.