Pivoting an organization is not a quick shift—it is an orchestration of many shifts made by many people over time. Focused & Nimble. Alignment & Momentum.
This blog is about leadership and, as entitled, collaborative action. That means—more than one person is involved. Pivoting your business, also requires leadership, collaboration, and action or execution.
You may envision pivoting as being a super quick shift, like footwork in basketball, and as used as an analogy for individuals or early-stage start ups that move quickly from one strategy, idea, action, market, mindset, etc. to another. Leaders know that turning-on-a-dime is often not possible and rarely sustainable across the organization.
But that doesn’t mean that pivoting is not possible. “The” Pivot (pivoting a business-organization-systems) is an orchestrated change of many shifts made by many people over time. The time required depends on the complexity of the shift and the readiness (willingness and capability) of the people and other resources needed for the change to be realized.
When you wonder why we have supply chain issues—such as limits on meat purchases in stores while there is an oversupply at the source during the shut downs during a pandemic, for example—it is because it is a system and not just a single head deciding to do something different with resources readily at hand.
How can you, as a leader, start to orchestrate a Pivot?
You will start with mindset and strategy at the leadership level. And as you consider your strategy in this new normal, you must be in touch with what it will take to brilliantly execute this strategy. If you already have an empowered and capable workforce, then be clear about what you envision and getting input about what’s possible. If you have relied on command and control, or love being a hero, you have initial work to do.
I’ll end with one tip about the initial work—think in terms of rhythm more than in terms of discipline. Both are consistent, but one—rhythm—is empowering. And I will teach this not in a prescriptive way, because I want you to feel, not just hear the message. In fact the full message may land differently with you than it did with me. That, in part, is the point.
View the two short clips below, from a very young, multi-talented, hugely innovative (and genius) musician, Jacob Collier. These clips are from his visit to MIT. I ask you to have just one question on your mind as you watch: How might I initiate and model a new rhythm here so that positive change, even breakthrough performance, is possible?
In The Pivot: Orchestrating Extraordinary Business Momentum, and every time I work with a business leader, we talk about the best next step. To make that best-next-step choice, examples are given and questions are asked. So I will end this post with both. View the 4 min video clip below, and ask yourself: In the workplace I lead, does everyone feel safe to speak out and step up? What have you done lately to understand what feeling safe, as you are, and being empowered to choose next best steps based on a clear direction feels—for you? for every person in the workplace you lead?
I’ve actually done this with you in this post. I entitled it “how” yet I didn’t tell you how. I make several recommendations in my book and will share a few in future posts. But first I want you to feel this—a workplace where change is natural, breakthroughs are possible, and you are directing and orchestrating not commanding or controlling—feel if this or steps toward this feel right for you and your organization. And, if so, choose your best next step now.
Here’s the 4.5 min video clip. In it, I’m speaking with a group of university students, professors, local business leaders. At the end I ask the audience to state a workplace they’d like to work in, and why. Even though this clip only includes one story, you’ll get the point I think.
And here are the questions again. Ask yourself: In the workplace I lead, does everyone feel safe to speak out and step up? What have you done lately to understand what feeling safe, as you are, and being empowered to choose next best steps based on a clear direction feels—for you? for every person in the workplace you lead?
In the next post I will more fully describe what the process of orchestrating The Pivot looks like, followed by more about how to not only plan for, but to fully orchestrate change and measure progress.