The need for strategic pivots: When to adapt your strategy

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There are times when it is important to adapt your strategy. This article considers some of the environmental changes that can result in the need to pivot.

Recognizing the need for change to your strategy

Your customers not responding as you expect

An example of a time where it may be necessary to pivot your strategy is if customers are not responding as you would expect them to. Potentially you had a particular expectation of how they would behave or the features that they would value, and this expectation does not materialize. Receiving feedback from customers that the strategy that you are pursuing is not working may be an indication of the need to adapt your approach.

A competitor changes their offerings

Another situation where it may be necessary to pivot your strategy is if a competitor makes a strategic change that impacts your firm. Potentially they start to imitate your approach, or they launch a new product with additional features, going beyond your offerings. 

While the actions of a competitor don’t necessarily mean that you should respond (and imitating their move is not always the best approach), it is important to be aware of the impact of their change on your firm and to consider whether there is a need for a pivot in your strategy.

There is a change in the technology environment

Another environmental change that may necessitate a pivot in your strategy is if there is a substantial technological change. Potentially a better approach is developed, or there is technology in a different industry that could improve your offerings. The greater awareness that you have of such technological advancement,s the better placed you will be to incorporate such technologies into your firm, and potentially pivot your strategy as a result. 

You are struggling to raise finance

Another reason why it may be necessary to pivot your strategy is if you are struggling to raise finances for your firm. Not having the finances in place may necessitate a pivot – you may for example simply not be able to pursue the investments that you intended – or it may also be an indication of a need to rethink your strategy. The feedback of investors may be a valuable source of input on the strategy of your firm, and there may be times where it is beneficial to listen to their experience or to seek to lower their skepticism.

Be aware of the extent of your strategic pivots - does it undermine your strategy

While strategic pivots can be important, they also come with the danger that they can undermine the strategy of a firm. What may start off as an internally consistent approach, with each part reinforcing the other, can start to unravel if changes are made without considering the impact on the broad strategy. Being aware of the impact that changes can have on your strategy is thus important to successfully pivot the firm. 

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