The Phantom of the Pivot
There can be great fear for business owners ... apprehension, anxiety and hesitation ... when making important, sometimes life-altering decisions for your business. We’re living in a fast-paced, rapidly changing world where pivoting in business is often necessary in order to stay competitive and grow.
When trying something new for your business ... as the owner, president or manager you may have heard your employees, friends, even family members say things like: "Oh no, here we go again ... he(she) must have gone to another positive-thinking seminar!” ... or "Remember what happened to their last idea?" ... or "Great! It will probably be another flop, a washout, a dud! Can’t wait to hear another Rah-Rah speech about how great everything will be when it’s implemented." My favorite: "If I know him/her, it’s going to be tedious and take a lot of time." Hmm!
As business leaders, we’ve all heard certain criticism when adding or changing products, method of sales, new features, and/or business processes, etc. Maybe this sounds too familiar ... "It was our original idea, our core product, the-way-we-use-to-do-it, that got us where we are ... so why on earth are we changing, adding, tinkering, fiddling and messing with this new 'wild hair,' when many of these newfangled ideas haven’t worked out the way the boss said they would?"
My answer is ... you see these "newfangled" ideas, changes, and pivots in the products we use every day! Take Smart phones, for example. Many features you may never use, and you may think the change just didn’t add anything to the product; however, some features have been altered for the better ... now everyone is singing its praises.
The “Phantom” of the pivot? Well, that’s the dark voices that can’t wait to tell us, “That’ll never work ... you tried that before,” and “Oh, by the way, remember you lost your butt the last time you had a new idea.”
But, if you listen closely to the voice of the “Phantom,” there may be some hidden encouragement, like "OK, it’s working, a little, but it still hasn’t made us a profit,” or “Yeah, it’s nice to have that new piece of equipment, but I still don’t see it making a big difference in the company!”
Those voices, although a bit hypocritical, may be all the credit you’ll ever receive from those “Phantoms,” when pivots DO go the right way...
- “Well I guess that works, but I like the ‘old’ way better!”
- “Well, yeah, it’s working, but it sure was hard to implement...if it was my company I just wouldn’t have done it!”
- “Alright, it’s good, but you know me, I still don’t like “change!”
Notice how many BUT’s there are in some people’s thinking!? No, many don’t like change or pivoting, even when they see something is working for the better, and it becomes successful.
Successful companies remain relevant because they are not afraid of the “Phantom of the Pivot.” The naysayers tend to cost businesses more, when they’re not willing to challenge themselves to continually improve.
One of the great lessons I’ve learned from having three business careers, and years of watching the “Phantom” in action is, that with almost every pivot I made in business, the change paid a dividend.
Yes, as leaders we need to listen to wise counsel and make rash business decisions ... AND count the cost ... but fear will hinder any business from moving forward.
The truth about those discouraging “Phantoms” out there is, many (if they had the opportunity to work for a cutting-edge, on-the-way-up, cool company) would leave a stagnant, non-forward-thinking company in a ghostly second. Unfortunately, they would take their surreal world with them.
So, what does “Phantom of the Pivot” have to do with systemizing your business?
Consider. It’s a noble thing to continually improve, to achieve relevance in the marketplace, in order that you don’t lose your piece of the pie and that your business would grow. However, if you implement a “pivot” in a loosey-goosey fashion, it is likely to fail ... those Phantom voices will grow louder and the culture of your company will grow darker.
The first pivot for a business should be to implement written processes in every facet of the organization to ensure all “work,” and all “newfangled ideas” are systematically implemented, which will dampen down the negative Phantom and ensure success.
Did I mention? Great systems work!
[One system we implemented years ago was to take articles that help us with our pivots, from blogs and trade magazines, and scan or link them to our System100 so everyone can have access. This blog idea came from an article I read in Website Magazine called “Don’t Fear the Pivot.” Just wanted to give credit for the idea to those who work hard getting good material to those of us who need it]
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.