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Pivot – the most overused word of the last 13 weeks?

22 June, 2020

I’ve lost count of the amount of times the word ‘pivot’ has been used in Zoom and Teams meetings over the last 13 weeks! It’s very clear from what we’ve all recently experienced that many businesses and organisations across the globe have had to swiftly change their plans and ‘pivot’.

Pivot – the most overused word of the last 13 weeks?

It’s not uncommon to change tack and rewrite business and marketing plans when encountering or overcoming hurdles. But right now, what we’re experiencing is thousands of businesses having to pivot and all at the same time! It’s not by choice but through sheer determination to survive and come out on top at the end (and who knows when that will be?) of this pandemic.

Pretty quick off the mark were businesses within the hospitality industry: many restaurants, forced to close, quickly pivoted and jumped on social channels to advertise their takeaway offering – and in the background were ensuring their websites were up to date and able to deal with the new e-commerce aspects. Interestingly, one of the UK’s high street giants – Primark – is store-only with no online selling options pre-Pandemic and no signs of adaptation. This was reflected as early as April this year when it announced a £248 million hit – by not changing its business model it will no doubt have lost out on sales to its digital rivals.

According to the Harvard Business Review, adaptability is ‘the new competitive advantage’ and those organisations that thrive ‘are quick to read and act on signals of change. They have worked out how to experiment rapidly, frequently, and economically – not only with products and services but also with business models, processes, and strategies.’

Many global economies are now tentatively entering a post-lockdown phase; a Kinsey Report recently highlighted that ‘the world is turning from resilience to return’, adding that business leaders ‘should be prepared to incorporate new information and alter their approaches, either incrementally or radically as new information becomes available.’

Most businesses will already have adapted or are entering this post-lockdown phase with a clear view of what changes need to be made to succeed in the ‘new world’. However, with many still facing the reality of operating remotely for some months to come, PWC issued a report which highlighted six key areas of focus for organisations, and one of the recommendations was a rethink on strategy and brand. In particular the ‘acceleration of digital transformations as the shift to remote working reveals gaps in IT infrastructure, workforce planning and digital upskilling.’

Here at KISS it’s been interesting to see this map out in real time. With so much more reliance on the web, and an acknowledgement of the importance of digital acceleration, we’ve seen a distinct uptake in the type of work coming through the agency: more of a focus on improving the experience of customers and employees via the development or improvement of websites, and a big commitment to all things digital. Not entirely surprising – the World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform cites that ‘companies which have gone digital are adapting to the crisis better than their peers’ and that ‘their business models and working processes meant that they were able to pivot more rapidly or accelerate changes that were already underway.’

A quick Google of ‘pivot’ revealed a raft of information and a brilliant quote which just about sums it up for me: ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often’ – Winston Churchill. Businesses that have always adapted to change, and that are constantly looking at how to improve, will no doubt succeed and survive this crisis. And the ones that don’t? Well – they will probably have ignored that all-important five letter word: PIVOT!

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