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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jeffrey

PIVOT OR SWIVEL? A beginners’ guide.

Ever since this bleeding virus hit you hear the word “PIVOT” everywhere.

You have to pivot your strategy, pivot your business models, pivot to new audiences. You can pivot from somewhere or towards something, you can pivot up, down or sideways, none of which is helpful, all of it is confusing but look, it’s only a metaphor so let’s not get too excited or contrarian about this.

Jargon schmargon, all people are saying is that you need to think about your strategy, NOW and in a BIG WAY.

Things have changed. Yes, yes, yes. New Normal. Yada, yada etc, etc. But they have, they really, really have. Maybe not as much as we think but the pandemic is at the very least accelerating certain trends which were already apparent.

For the leaders and the sectors, I’m concerned with (social, creative and cultural sectors) this applies in mega spadefuls.

Check these links out:

So, what do we do?

PIVOT. Yep that’s what I said, Pivot.

Switch direction change what you’re doing.


And what’s more, “small changes won’t cut it” because changes in the way people work and think will be fundamental.

And this thing isn’t going away any time soon. Yes, there may be vaccines but there may not. Bill Gates thinks this will be sorted out by end of 2021. He may be right. On the other hand this is the guy thought the Internet would not be a significant development.

And that is before the next pandemic comes along. And it will.

That’s where PIVOTING comes in. The good news is that it’s a well-known phenomenon, Business has been doing it for years.

Business is adept at changing. Try these ones out for size but this is my favourite.

So, I am arguing there is no choice, leaders in the social, cultural and creative sectors need to respond to a completely new paradigm but in a way which is controlled, considered and strategic.

Question is though HOW?

STEP 1 – Acceptance

You may not think there are other ways of doing what you are doing now or of making the difference you are currently making. You may be right but at the very least test that hypothesis. Chances are what you are doing now is not going to work in the very near future but certainly not in the long term.

STEP 2 – Customers

Talk to your customers, markets, clients, however you define who you make a difference for and ask fundamental questions:

- What has changed for them?

- Do the still need what we can offer?

- What do they value about us?

- What meaning and value do we create for them?

STEP3 - Look inwards

- What does customer feedback say to you?

- What needs to change?

- Do you want to make that change?

- Can you deliver what you do in different ways?

- Is the meaning and value you can create different?


- Are you clear about why you exist?

- Has that purpose changed, is it no longer meaningful?


Consider pulling together some focus groups to test your thinking.

Be ready to listen to hard truths.


How will you change what you do to these new circumstances?

How do you know that what you are doing meets your customer needs?

Try developing a Theory of Change for your work.

This is a really useful tool which if used properly can help you reshape your business or service offerings. It can help you develop and renew what you do and help you understand in what direction you may need to shift.


We’re going to need it.

For further reading and inspiration try these books:

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