The idea of the “Pivot” is often used in the startup community. The term is borrowed from basketball and means to change direction with one foot anchored to the ground.
Most successful startup businesses will pivot to some degree, making subtle (or not so subtle) changes to the business model, often many times. Typically a pivot is in response to new information about what your customers are buying and why.
A pivot is meant to be an evolutionary change, and is not the same as a “restart”. The idea of Pivots is covered in Eric Reis’ book, The Lean Startup
However, as the idea of the Pivot has developed, it has lead to two competing views:
Fail Fast, Fail Often
The “Fail Fast, Fail Often” view is based on the concept that you can’t predict exactly what the next world-changing business. Failure is common, and often inevitable, so embrace the idea and conduct frequent iterations of developing an idea, testing that idea, proving it failed and repeat until it doesn’t fail. Rapid iteration gives the maximum chance of converging on a successful outcome before the money runs out.
The Cult of Failure
The opposing view is that we have come to embrace and celebrate failure to an unhealthy degree. Constant pivoting until you succeed is a hit-or-miss approach, and that failure is not a strategy. Mike Moritz from Sequoia Capital put it like this:
“Constant Pivoting is like having a compass without a bearing. You need to know true north”
This is a contentious area, but one worth understanding both sides.
Photo credit Helmut Gevert