Gapingvoid - pivot


  • “The “Pivot” is a popular term in startup culture. It means changing your game plan halfway through, based on changing reality, perceived or otherwise. Pivoting is scary. It means admitting weakness. It means what you thought would work, no longer works. It means confronting a lot of what you’d rather not know about yourself. Yet the ability to pivot is so essential to human survival, you wonder why it isn’t taught in schools more. Instead, we’re taught to keep our heads down and never be wrong. Just notice how much time, effort and resource is invested in always trying to be right…Openness to pivoting is one of the most powerful ideas in business today.”

I like the term pivot (though as Hugh mentions, it is already becoming “popular” so it won’t take long for it to be cliché). With reference to the powerful “pivot” feature in spreadsheets (you are a novice spreadsheet user until you have mastered the pivot table), it implies a more “multi-dimension” shift or rotation. Not just a change in direction from left to right, but possibly from up to down, from backwards to forwards, from one characteristic (or “dimension”) to another.

Hugh references Bernard Moon’s piece “4 signs that your startup is ready to pivot” which is a catalogue of failures to embrace…

  1. You are constantly educating the market – “There is a fuzzy line between being a first mover and capturing a new market and being chum for sharks in the ocean depths. If you’re constantly educating your target users and trying to create a market, then you’re probably too early. This is a long and arduous process that should lead you to pivot.”
  2. Your beta users don’t like your product – “If a vast majority of your users don’t like your product or don’t find value in it or just don’t get it, then pivot.”
  3. Investors you meet aren’t buying it – “After dozens and dozens of investor meetings and dozens of rejections, if the feedback is negative on the product or target market, you should consider a pivot.”
  4. You’re being everything to everyone – “Most startups that try to be everything to everyone fail because they are burning their engineering resources on developing products that are bigger than they should be.

With the season of New Year (or Mid-Year) reviews upon us, may you pivot with grace, balance and poise…