Questioning the Power in “Pivot”?

​​If there’s one business buzz word that’s surfaced in 2020, it’s “pivot.” Everywhere we seem to turn, we hear CEOs, thought leaders, serial entrepreneurs and government officials all talking “pivot.” No question about it, redirection and repositioning have been lifesaving for a number of industries, organizations and people. But not all have found their power in a pivot.

For example, as stated in a September 2020 Harvard Business Review(HBR) article, many ventures, particularly in hospitality, travel and furniture “shunned strategic agility (changing product-market fit) and resolutely stayed the course with only minor tweaks.” Anddespite the turmoil in their markets,” the article points out, “all made the conscious decision to not pivot and deliberately maintained their strategies, their business models, and their teams with only marginal changes.”

But as the article also points out and as our consultants at Management Action Programs (MAP) have consistently hammered home to our client organizations and leaders, “staying the course doesn’t mean inaction.”

So what does it mean, then? And how do we stay the course in turbulent times?

Stay focused on the goal. So your ship has been rocked off course. Or a “storm” has come your way. This doesn’t mean you’ve got to choose a new goal. Your goal may still be perfectly realistic and doable. It’s just that you may need new tactics to achieve it. For example, commit to developing your people so they can perform more effectively in remote teams—and still commit to reaching your goal. Or as HBR suggests, “trim fat, not muscle,” making a number of small versus gross adjustments to avoid furloughs or layoffs—and still commit to reaching your goal.

Review and update job expectations. With strategies changing, people will have different roles and responsibilities—at least for now. And those roles and responsibilities may need to be assigned to different people, too. Make and communicate those updates in a sensitive yet straightforward way, ensuring the changes are crystal clear to your team and all who are impacted. Build buy-in and ownership, explaining the “why” behind any changes needed. They’ll be more likely to stay aboard and stick with you.

Sharpen accountability. Regain any lost, critical discipline around measuring what’s vital, taking consistent, corrective action around what’s not working and celebrating what is working. Check-in with yourself, your teams and the organization at large, reviewing and measuring success against your goals, and maintaining accountability (whether remote or in person). Tap the power of daily huddles, weekly team meetings, and more comprehensive monthly meetings—like MAP’s Vital Factor Team Meetings—to build alignment around the system you use, drive results and get you to your goal.

Felt tempted to pivot but stayed the course instead? How that’s working for you?



​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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