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David Mills
By David Mills on January 26, 2021

The Move from Crisis Response to Strategic Pivot

Many businesses that are still open have been living in crisis response mode since March of 2020. By making rapid adjustments to product or service delivery, they have been able to track with the massive buyer shifts that have been occurring. Moving from responding to crisis to making intentional and strategic changes allows the organization to shift from simply staying afloat to seizing opportunities that create strength and growth.

Are you in Crisis or Pivot Mode?

Crisis management is the way that many businesses responded as the threat and then shutdowns of various types occurred. These were forced responses designed to allow a business to continue operating. For most, changes were not strategic, forward looking or based on a growth process other than survival. 

A business pivot, an idea that comes from the lean start-up movement, is the intentional process used by entrepreneurs to build, measure and learn. It allows for rapid change but it is significantly different than a crisis response which often leaves out two-thirds of the process. You may have tried out a new process or service because your were prompted by the crisis, but that alone won't provide the longer-term growth potential of a pivot.

While you may have learned important things by responding with innovation during 2020, you won't realize the full benefit unless you shift into an intentional pivot cycle and have the tools to support rapid change.

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A Pivot helps maximize growth in an uncertain environment

2020 brought significant disruption, but now uncertainty continues to loom. This is due to the prolonged nature of the crisis, and a lack of experience in how people will come back from the situation. 


By adding the full pivot cycle to your process (i.e. measure and learn), you can make the shift away from immediate reaction to change and toward harnessing the change that strengthens and propels your organization into growth. 


Strategy is the big dividing line between a crisis response and an intentional pivot that leads to growth  - are changes being made in a way that includes the measure and learn part of the process?

WE are heading into continued uncertainty

There is no doubt that we are headed into continuing market disruption. In addition to the lingering crisis from health issues, we've yet to see just how much buyers will continue to act or react to what has already changed or what is yet to come. 

Building the skills to adapt to change on purpose isn't just for entrepreneurs, but it's also for every business and nonprofit. One take away from the disruptions of 2020 - businesses that are thriving now already had an innovation culture. 

Maximize what you learned in 2020

If you've been in innovation and possible crisis response mode during 2020, it's time to measure how well the changes you made last year worked for your organization. That's the first step to moving from crisis to pivot. That's more than looking at bottom line numbers, it's also about customer retention, employee morale and overall profitability.  

The truth is, there is a lot to learn right now from the start-up world. We call this approach Lean Recovery - applying the lean start-up approach to recovering from big market disruptions. 

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Published by David Mills January 26, 2021
David Mills