If, when, … to Pivot?

The term “pivot” has become a buzzword referring to a business change — ranging from mild to dramatic. A pivot is usually intended to help a business recover from a tough period, or survive after experiencing new competition or other factors that make the original business model unsustainable.  A pivot can also result from seeing a new opportunity. The two big inter-dependent questions are:

  • If, when, why to pivot?
  • What will be the pivot? What will be the change?

 

In today’s world, many things are frequently changing, e.g.,

  • Customer needs and expectations
  • Technology
  • Regulations
  • Import and export duties
  • New competitors

Some changes demand incremental changes but some require or lead to wholesale changes, e.g.,

  1. Kodak didn’t change when digital cameras began to appear. They’re gone.
  2. Twitter began as a business providing access to podcasts but feared its demise when iTunes began taking over the podcast niche.  In a matter of weeks, they decided to offer a micro-blogging service.
  3. William Wrigley was selling soap and baking powder, and gave away free gum to persons who bough his products. He realized that people were more interested in the gum than the products he was selling.  He went into the gum business.  The company currently sells its products in more than 180 countries, maintains operations in over 50 countries, and has 21 production facilities in 14 countries.

 

What can be learned from these three examples?

  • Kodak senior executives were too comfortable selling film, and didn’t listen to anyone including their own people
  • Twitter recognized an insurmountable threat and didn’t dilly-dally, examined options and started a new venture
  • Wrigley was alert, saw an opportunity and didn’t dilly-dally, dropped what he was doing and pursued the gum business

 

So what to do?

  1. Be alert, persistent, innovative and proactive

Quiz #1:  How many “f”s are in this sentence when you read it quickly the first time? How many when you read it the second time?:

Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of many years.

Quiz #2:  Here is an equation that is made using matchsticks:

  1. Is there a problem with the equation?
  2. Can you correct it by moving at most one matchstick?
  • How many ways are there to correct it by moving at most one matchstick? (Hint: There are several. Think “outside the box”)

Next steps:

  1. Be on the lookout: for changes that could impact your business
    • Listen to your team
    • Talk with persons in and outside your business
    • Talk to your lawyer and accountant
    • Go to conferences
    • …..
  2. Don’t be afraid of change, but recognize that change requires leadership

The pandemic has forced many businesses to pivot.  More >> https://hbr.org/2020/07/how-businesses-have-successfully-pivoted-during-the-pandemic