COVID-19 caught the business world by surprise. And it didn’t just change where organizations work (from an office to at home) — it has changed everything: economies, regulations, timelines, employee and customer expectations, the list goes on.
So what did the majority of organizations do in response to this swift and sudden change?
I know that many seasoned leaders and CIOs have rolled their eyes at the word “pivot” in the past but, it’s 2020 and well, it just might be the word of the year.
No matter the industry, businesses have had to pivot. A few examples of this include restaurants acted as grocery stores selling fresh produce, meats and beer, among other things, gyms transitioned into online workout subscriptions, and distilleries began manufacturing and selling hand sanitizer. Even Chuck E. Cheese pivoted into a delivery pizza chain under the name Pasqually’s.
In big or small ways, every business has had to pivot. When done correctly, a pivot can create new revenue streams, keep businesses afloat, and deliver even more value to their customers.
However, organizations run into problems when they think they’re pivoting but really, they’re just checking off tasks, working for the sake of being busy or failing to innovate. In short, they’re not pivoting — they’re spinning in circles.
What’s the difference between pivoting and spinning?
Business pivots are meant to help a business recover from a difficult period that made their original business model less sustainable. It is sometimes seen as a short term move, but it can have positive long-term impacts on the businesses, depending on the business. Whether it’s meant to be short-term or long-term, a pivot is a deliberate and purposeful shift to create value for the end-user.
Deliberate and purposeful are the two keywords in that definition. It’s what makes a pivot different from a knee jerk spin. A knee jerk spin will not create value for your end-user or your business, but it will likely cost you time and money.
Here’s how to know if you made a pivot versus a knee-jerk spin. You pivoted if:
- You relied on data to make decisions about where to shift
- You already had a clear understanding of how value flowed through your organization
- You understood what aspects of the business worked and leveraged those things to create new value streams
The difference between organizations that pivoted and those that are spinning is that the pivoting organizations already had a holistic view of their organization and how it delivers value. They understood their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before the pandemic hit.
Organizations that made knee jerk reactions were in the day-to-day, siloed operational mindset. They didn’t know where they were to begin so they could change direction to move into a better place when COVID-19 hit.
What Can CIOs Do to Stop Spinning?
If you are concerned that instead of pivoting, you’re just spinning, it’s ok. It’s not too late to slow down and make the pivot you need. Here’s how:
Identify the value you deliver to the end-user
What is the value that the organization delivers to the end-user? How does IT contribute to that business value? Are you able to connect IT services to the happiness and success of a customer? If no, then that’s where you start. Understanding where IT creates value in the organization is the first step to being able to find innovative ways to keep delivering it.
Communicate with all key stakeholders
Are all of your key stakeholders in agreement with the value you deliver? Does the sales department see the same level of value that the marketing department does? Do your customers see the value your salespeople see? Every stakeholder needs to be on the same page here or else you’ll end up trying to deliver too much.
Map everything out
You can use a whiteboard or create a digital version, but you should have a clear map of your value streams and your customer journeys. It is imperative that everyone on your team can visualize where value is created, where it may be getting lost, and where there are more opportunities to create value.
Creating a customer journey and value stream maps are two exercises that will provide that holistic view of the organization you need to survive this pandemic and whatever comes next. They are collaborative exercises but once completed you’ll be in a better position to take actions that will help the business pivot to where it needs to go.
Fill in the gaps
You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. The truth is, even as we continue to move through this pandemic, we have no idea what will change in the future or what the next upending disaster will be. There is no such thing as “smooth sailing” forever. Another emergency will hit organizations and they’ll need to pivot. Taking the steps now to address where you are, lay your groundwork and create that solid foundation will strengthen you to not only pivot and survive in this emergency, but in future ones as well.
If you want to ensure you’re making a pivot and not turning in circles, let’s chat! Book a free consultation to learn how you can leverage your wins and successfully pivot your organization.Share