The Most Important Part of the Pivot

As organizations continue to adapt to the numerous ripples of the global pandemic, many a pundit has waxed poetic about the need for leaders to “pivot” their business model . . . to reimagine how to maximize their organizations’ impact in the midst of a dramatic change in the ground rules. While that particular term — pivot — has been overused in the last six months, almost to the point of making some leaders twitch at its mere utterance, there is a key aspect of the word that seems to have been overlooked.

In most cases, the advice about pivoting focuses on the need for significant, rapid change. And while many organizations have had to do just that, there is another facet of the word that has largely been neglected . . . When something pivots, one part of the object (or organization) may swing widely from point “a” to point “b”, however another part remains planted in a fixed location. The definition of pivot, when used as a noun, is the “shaft or pin on which something turns.” The pivot doesn’t change. In fact, it is the stationary nature of one part of the object or organization that allows the whole to successfully rotate from one direction to another.

Rather than being overwhelmed by the many ways you and your people have had to change course, perhaps swinging in a totally new direction, why not focus on those things that are anchoring your organization . . . that have remained constant in the midst of the pandemic:

Your mission, vision and values;

The skills and abilities of your people;

Your strategic goals.

Breath in the stability of these core foundational elements. Yes, you may have had to shift how you go about reaching your strategic goals, the way you maximize the gifts and graces of your people, or the steps you take to carry out your mission . . . but the solid base — the part that allows you to pivot — stands strong. Focus there. In the same way that a dancer focuses on a fixed point during a spin to keep from getting dizzy, or someone prone to motion sickness focuses their eyes on things that aren’t moving to keep the nausea at bay, focusing on those things that are unchanging in the midst of this pandemic can go a long way toward helping you keep your bearings. The firm foundation of your mission vision and values, the depth and resiliency of your staff, and the clear intent of your strategic goals all give you as a leader as solid place to plant your foot. A place that enables you to adapt with confidence — to pivot — in ways that extend your mission, even in the most uncertain of times.

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