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Career Crisis? You need to learn The Pivot

Career Crisis? You need to learn The Pivot

Posted on November 2018 By Ellie Somers

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ou may not have noticed, but "pivot" is the latest business buzzword. It describes not only a change in direction, but a graceful departure from one's own failures. 

Instagram pivoted from being an utterly avoidable check-in and gaming app, to become one of the world's most popular social-media channels. Youtube pivoted from a failing dating start-up to become the unfathomably successfull video-sharing platform that's now worth about $70bn.

Jenny Blake, a former Google employee , now a career coach and business strategist, loves the term so much she has written a book about it. She says that you'll know when it's time to pivot if you find yourself in a professional plateau or burnt out or even fired- you can choose to pivot, or a pivot can "choose you".

"When you learn how to take the reins, no one person, job, or client can take that away", says Blake.

Pivoting is empowering and affirming, even life-changing, she says. It can be applied to all facets of life- including dating and relationships. It's a "framework for facilitating agile thinking". So how's it done? Here's the basic's extracted from Blake's book.

How to Pivot 

Stage One Plant

The Plant stage provides a framework for where you are now and where you want to end up. This is the crux of the pivot, and you'll need to spend more time at this stage then you think.

  • First, acknowledge what is already working- what are your strengths, interests, experiences and networks? These form the great leverage for your pivot. Also consider what success looks like one year from now: what are you most excited about? What would you like to become an expert at?
  • Answer the following questions: if money was no issue, how would you spend your time? What excites you most? What is the compliment you hear more often? What do you want less or more of?
  • Circle the key works or phrases that jump out at you from your answers- these are your values. In a few words, write what is important about each one.
  • From this, write a vision statement. Imagine it is one year on and you and you have achieved wil succes. Describe in the present tense what you are doing, how you are feeling and what you are proud of.

Stage Two Scan

  • The Scan stage is for exploration. Revisit your vision statement: what could you do to further develop in those areas? Where can you learn these skills? Who can you shadow or train with? This could involved research, plugging knowledge and skill gaps, and approaching those who have been successful in your chosen areas.

Stage Three Pilot

  • The Pilot is where you test several hypotheses about what to pursue; instead of betting big on any one, reduce risk by conducting small tests. Pilots can be as simple as tweaks to your morning routine, or as ambitious as experimenting within your company. When preparing, ask yourself how many touch points does it have to your values and one-year vision, and how you can pilot it in a low-cost way in terms of money, energy and time. Afterwards, ask yourself the three Es: enjoyment (do I like doing it?), expertise (am I good at it? Can I increase my skills?) and expansion (can I earn a living doing it?).

​Stage Four Launch

  • The Launch stage is when you make the big decision that completes your pivot. The first three stages can be repeated as many times as necessary, often taking you 80-90% of the way towards your goal; launch is when you pull the trigger on the remaining 10-20%. Clarify your launch timing as objectively as possible: ideally, you should have at least six month's savings. One of the most challenging aspects of pivoting is knowing when to leave a good option behind for something with the potential to be great. Don't wait for perfect conditions; you can only spin on a set of questions for so long before it becomes better to get something in motion.

Extracted from Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, by Jenny Blake.