Master the Art of the Pivot
— February 28, 2019
As a leader, it’s important to always have a plan. At the same time, however, it’s important to realize that your plans won’t always unfold smoothly. You’ll run into problems. You’ll hit a wall. You’ll be thrown off course. Pick whichever turn of phrase you like—the point is, you need to be ready to deal with plans that blow up in your face.
In other words, you need to know how to pivot—how to quickly and strategically change course as needed. That’s not an easy skill to master, and you’re not going to become a master pivot-er just by reading this blog—but I do hope these quick tips and guidelines get you thinking productively.
How to Get Better at Pivoting
- As you make your plans, think through the worst-case scenarios.
I’m a big believer in positive thinking. As you make plans, you should always envision things going smoothly. But that doesn’t mean you should be naïve about the things that could go wrong. Take a little time to ask yourself about the worst things that could happen, and articulate some contingency plans for dealing with these unwelcome turns.
- Lean into your strengths.
When your plans blow up, it can catch you off guard—and you may find yourself scrambling to do anything just to maintain some forward motion. What I recommend against is leaning into areas where you’re weak. Instead, stop to think about your best assets, your strongest resources, and the things you and your team really excel at. Use that catalog of strengths to help you determine your next move.
- Think about your timing.
Sometimes, when a plan blows up, it’s not because it was a bad plan—it’s just a matter of poor timing. In other words, you can maybe salvage your plan and set it aside for another time. A failure doesn’t have to be a total loss; sometimes, it can just be a postponement.
- Stay optimistic.
I meant what I said earlier about the power of positive thinking—and as you consider ways you can pivot, I’d urge you not to lose sight of your ultimate goal. Instead of giving up on it, think about alternate paths to achieving it. Be hopeful even as plans change!