“If you flip, you flop.”
That was the sage advice that one of my University lecturers in business strategy passed onto me and the others in my class, 25 years ago.
Was he referring to rubber footwear?
Well given that he was Australian and they refer to them as thongs, not flipflop’s the answer is a resounding no.
His advice referred to the importance of developing and following a clear business strategy rather than making knee-jerk reactions that will derail the long-term success of the business for the sake of short-term gain.
The world has changed significantly in the last 25 years, and so too has the way we do business, so is there still any validity in his mantra?
The definition of strategy, according to the Collins English Dictionary, is;
‘A general plan or set of plans intended to achieve something, especially over a long period,’
If we fail to plan, we plan to fail, however, should plans ever be set in stone?
If they are, what happens when the unexpected happens?
How do those long-term plans stand up?
As we all know, the unexpected can happen, and COVID19 has probably been the most surprising thing to happen in the last few years. So how have businesses reacted? Have they all carried on valiantly, business as usual?
No. Some, unfortunately, due to various restrictions have had to close their doors permanently and no doubt, some have stoically carried on with no change. However, we have seen that the majority of businesses have had to rapidly change the way they operate to stay afloat, so what changed? Businesses had to pivot.
Pivoting is when a business has to make a change to its strategy. The reason for this could be either to survive a significant hardship or because the current business model isn’t working or won’t be sustainable. It could be a decision to add a new channel to the ones they serve, or it could be to exit a customer segment, or even something more significant. Historically, pivoting has been the domain of start-up businesses, but the dawn of COVID19 has seen more and more companies adopt it.
The height of lockdown saw cafes and restaurants resort to takeaway only, meaning that they may have had to quickly set up a website or adopt the use of social media platforms. As the pubs closed, distillers needed a new income stream, so many produced hand sanitiser, which was in high demand. Places such as gyms and yoga studios delivered online classes for their members. Musicians got together virtually for live-streamed concerts—taxi services morphed into delivery services in the absence of any passengers. Offices were empty as staff worked from home, and teachers had to bring whole learning curriculums online within a matter of days. But necessity is the mother of invention, and these changes happened because they had to happen.
So will things go back to the way they were? I very much doubt it.
The way we do business and will do business in the future has changed.
How can we make sure that we continue to drive positive and sustainable change moving forward? How can we pivot post-COVID and beyond to ensure that the new normal is better than the old? How can we ensure that we pivot our business and make improvements as a matter of course, rather than purely out of necessity?
Sometimes it can be hard to find an opportunity out of a difficult situation. I started thinking that, if I could develop a a simple tool that was easy for any business in any industry to use, then just maybe our attitude towards COVID19 would pivot from one of despair and negativity to one of hope and opportunity. Hence the COVID PIVOT Worksheet was born.
So how do you use it?
Across the top, the word COVID determines the questions that you should ask of your business. Down the side, from the word PIVOT, you will find suggestions for the areas of your business that you should explore in more detail.
For example, C across the top asks the question; What can I change, create, collate, cancel, or combine? About P down the side; when it comes to my Products, Price, Promotion, Place (distribution), People, Purpose or Process?
Then ask the same question for the areas of business listed in the next row and so on.
Keep your vision central to everything, as this is what will enable you to stay on track.
Importantly you need a strategy from which to pivot. A business strategy is still vital to ensure that a clear vision, goals and the proper resources are in place. You wouldn’t set out to climb Mount Everest without a plan, so don’t run your business without one.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill.
It is essential to review and update your strategy regularly to ensure that you are still on track to achieve your goals, and if you are following the best path to get there. If not, it allows you to work out what changes and improvements you need to make to thrive well into the future.
So to answer the question, is there still validity in the mantra “If you flip you flop.”?
Yes – Knee-jerk reactions rarely pay off in the long run, however successful they may seem in the short term. Instead, focus your effort on becoming more agile and making incremental improvements which will transform your business to be one that is more sustainable.
Perhaps this is the change that we need to propel us forward.
Are you ready to re-assess and re-define your business and pivot towards a new normal full of opportunity? Are you ready to imagine a better future?
If you would like a copy of this worksheet to use for your business, or want me to facilitate a business strategy or business pivot session either online or in person, please get in touch via email or LinkedIn.