When Should You Pivot?

When Should You Pivot?

In a VUCA world, change is constant. To cope with the change you will have to warm up to the idea of pivoting.

There will be a multitude of reasons which will make it imperative for you to pivot. Failure: to do so means that you run a real risk of being rendered irrelevant and left behind to lick your wounds.

Here is a partial list of when to pivot, for your quick reference:

Market dynamics may be undergoing changes. You may wish to serve a new or larger market.

The current market may be shrinking.

An 800-pound gorilla has entered your market.

New opportunities may have opened up.

Customers are moving their business away from you. You wish to try a new business model.

You desire to present your existing product in a new and exciting manner.

Your growth becomes anemic.

Regulations have changed and compliance becomes a challenge.

When Should You Pivot?

The market is growing and you are not. Your profit is shrinking.

You should bear in mind that it is unlikely that the strategy you craft to address the above challenges will immediately score a bullseye. Do not lose heart. Do a thorough analysis to determine the root cause that led to the failure of the strategy. Wiser now, focus on identifying which direction you should now pivot in order to gain traction in the market. Do as many pivots as required till you hit upon a successful strategy, and then drop anchor.

Epilogue: Once a company hits upon a successful strategy, it does look simple and obvious. This is why armchair critics have made a profession of criticizing companies that keep pivoting their strategy till they discover a successful one. ‘Why do they waste a company’s scarce resources by pivoting so often, only to discover such a simple and obvious strategy?’ the critics ask.

A stinging retort to such a query was delivered long ago, by the explorer who accidentally discovered a continent on a voyage to discover new land. Upon his return, a banquet was hosted in his honor. Many guests were not appreciative of the explorer’s efforts, maintaining that anyone can set sail and accidentally discover an island. Hearing this, the explorer fetched a half-boiled egg and asked his audience if anyone could make the egg stand on its head.

Several guests attempted but failed. Finally, the explorer took the egg and gave it a firm tap against the table, cracking the shell. He then balanced the egg on its head and turned around to tell the audience: ‘Now anyone can make the egg stand on its head. It is no big deal after you have been shown how to do it.’ 

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