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How to Pivot successfully

#pamice #pivot

On Media Watch this week Paul Barry spoke about the most overused phrase in the media during this pandemic.  It was “Petrie dish”, as in the “schools are like a Petrie dish for Coronavirus”. Since this pandemic started to bite into the economy about 3 weeks ago, the most overused word in business seems to be “pivot”, as in “we need to pivot to stay relevant”.

I attended a great online discussion hosted by Ivan Kaye last week, with Professor Clive Smallman as the guest presenter.  Clive is a specialist in crisis management ( and he helped me put the pivot in perspective relative to the greater changes around a business today.

Clive put up this fantastic graph to show what a business is going through at the moment.

The brief summary, and Clive does this much better than I can, is that the crisis hits and we immediately drop revenue, take some time to adjust costs, make some adjustments, prepare for growth, then come out of the crisis with growth through the recovery.

The focus we have had with our Members over the last 3 weeks has been at the point where the graph says “Now”.  The mindset has shifted from sales leadership and revenue increase, to “what do we need to do to protect our revenue stream?”.  We want to avoid a fast dip in revenue, stay above the breakeven line and look for growth in rapidly changing markets.

The pivots have all followed the same process, pretty much a hybrid of Clive’s crisis management process and Sales Director Central’s sales leadership framework (  The process has consistently been:

  1. Keep Value (perceived value for your customer) at the centre of all conversations.
  2. Plan for the pivot
    1. ID a core Team to focus on the pivot
    2. Ensure we Understand the current and emerging situation
    3. Reach out to every Customer
  3. Be Accountable for executing the plan.
  4. Put a Methodology in place for reviewing the pivot and qualifying new opportunities.
  5. Agree key Indicators to measure success against.
  6. Set up a Cadence that reflects the new rhythm of the business and the changing marketplace.
  7. Execute at pace with “move, monitor, modify” as the new mantra.

We have also seen that when a company pivots, it enables their clients to pivot and so on. This Positive Pivot Paradigm will enable fundamental changes to the way we operate well after the pandemic has passed. 

Organisational policies are changing overnight too.  One example is working from home.  Prior to COVID-19, OH&S was a blocking factor for staff to work from home.  Within one day that barrier was removed.

Bureaucratic barriers are also being removed overnight.  One example is every bar and restaurant with a liquor license can now deliver to your home.  Have you ever seen governments pass new laws so quickly?  Have you ever seen bureaucrats execute on those changes so quickly?

A quick summary on some of pivots we have been involved in:

  1. A customer experience platform provider for large call centres pivoted to enable cafés to use their standard inbound phone number to become an order intake system for local home delivery. One pivot drove another pivot, which in turn enabled the original pivot!
  2. A business process automation service provider pivoted to become a WFH and Business Continuity specialist. This enabled their clients to continue operating as close to normal as possible in this new environment. Their pivot enabled their clients to continue business as usual.
  3. A NFP pivoted to telehealth consultations to a vulnerable section of the community. Legislative changes were responded to in hours not months.  A revenue stream was protected.

The bottom line on this is attitude.  Accepting the new norm opens your mind to new possibilities.  We need to create more jobs in new areas.  I’ve read many mission, vision and value statements over the years.  Most have one or all of these terms: innovative, resilient, caring, customer focused, honest/trusted, disciplined, teamwork and community.  Now is the time to act on those values by staying focused, staying positive and taking actions.

We’d love to hear your Positive Pivot story.  If you'd like to see more content like this, and never miss an article on revenue growth, register here.

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