Analytical 40: Pivot

12 April, 2019


Whilst Pivot is a more recent terminology often used in the context of a startup, it applies equally to many aspects of our lives, our endeavours or our own groups within companies of all sizes. We look at when, how, why and importantly if you should pivot and what the cost might be if you do.

Transcript available
[Music] Everything can be improved, iterated and refined. And if you don't think that's true, maybe you haven't analyzed it enough. Calculator choices carefully considered. Absolutely analytical. This episode is brought to you by Clubhouse, the first project management platform for software development development that brings everyone on every team together to build better products. Visit this URL clubhouse or one for more information. We'll talk more about them during the show. Analytical is part of the Engineered Network to support our shows including this one. Head over to our Patreon page and for other great shows, visit today. Pivot. I love the idea of pivot in startups. I mean, the term is broad generally used and abused. I'd say it's, I think it's fair to say it's pretty very very much abused in that space but in the end pivot really means that I'm going to try an entirely different business strategy, business model or a business objective but I'm gonna use pretty much the same people, the same equipment, same talent pool, you know whatever you know I'm not gonna change that much as the direction. There are lots of opinions about whether pivots are a good idea or not. You know if you could safely pivot once, twice, three times or so but ultimately there's no really true pre-criteria that you could use to determine if a pivot is generally a good or bad idea. It's completely up to, I think, firstly, assessing the expertise that you have currently available to you and its applicability to the new thing that you want to chase. But not just that, also, if there is really an opportunity, a good opportunity that's worth pursuing in that new direction that you want to head. So back in the bad old days, which to be honest, really wasn't that far back, we wouldn't say pivot, it was more a new direction or re-evaluating or reassessing viability, something like that. But you know, hey, pivot is one syllable. And that kind of says it. So I guess, you know, hey, why not? So pivoting really just comes back to that reassessment process. So that's actually what I want to explore here. So simple question, why reassess? Yeah, if what you're doing is working, then why? Yeah, why would you? I mean, And when is a good time to analyze your own performance, your own success, whether the... And that could really apply to anything that you do and it could also just be you. It could be your side projects, your company that you either run or work for or you're just a part of, you know, whatever it might be. And like I say, at the end of every episode of this show, I always think it's a good time to analyze something. So in the context of reassessment, it comes back to two fundamental things. Why did you start doing what you were doing? And then, what were your goals? I'm really hoping that you did set some goals and I refer you back to the very first episode of this show. So what does good look like? And what does success look like? And by that I mean, what does it look like to you personally, to you professionally, and from a company perspective, from an income perspective, happiness as well, how much you're changing the world if you think you can actually do that for example. All of those things. What does success and what does good look like in those contexts? So periodically I think you should check in with yourself, your team, your company, whatever it might be and measure yourself against a few key questions. First of all, are you achieving or on track to achieve what you set out to in your goals in the beginning? And then, are there other opportunities that you could be exploring but you aren't because you don't have the time, the space, or the bandwidth to chase those opportunities? Before we go any further, I'd like to talk about a sponsor for this episode and that's Clubhouse, the first project management platform for software development that brings everyone on every team together to build better products. Clubhouse was built from the outset with agile development in mind with an intense focus on intuitiveness and responsiveness. With their web backed by the Fastly CDN, it really feels like a local app on any platform you like. Clubhouse delivers developer-centric tools for everything from Kanban boards to epics, milestones, cards, with different card classifications for features, bugs and chores, but it's more Clubhouse's ability to interconnect all of them together that makes it so impressive. Users have reported creating less duplicates and navigations very fast using a common board but with as many configurable workspaces as you like and you can customize those boards for whatever purposes you might need at the time. Morning stand-ups for different teams, sub-teams, or all the teams, it's entirely up to you. Ultimately, any collaborative project management software has to be as low friction as possible, and not just for software developers, but for everyone in the organization. Marketing, support, management, you name it, the lot, so everyone can contribute and actual collaboration actually happens. Finally, the other part of Clubhouse that really shines is its ability to zoom out from individual tasks to the overall project status that not only keeps project managers happy, but keeps the team connected to how their own part contributes to the greater project. And that keeps them focused on what matters. And that's delivering a result their customers will enjoy. There's others in the market, but they're not like Clubhouse. And what makes Clubhouse so different is the balance between the right amount of simplicity without sacrificing key functionality, structured to allow genuine cross-functional team collaboration on your project. Clubhouse is a modern software as a service platform with seamless integrations for popular tools like GitHub, Slack, Sentry and lots more. And if the tools you want to integrate aren't available out of the box, an extensible REST API in Clubhouse makes those integrations straightforward. If you visit this URL clubhouse or, you can take advantage of a special offer for Engineered Network listeners. Of course, you'll get the 14 day free trial, but if you sign up, you'll get two months free. And because this is a team centric solution, this offer will work with your whole team, not just you. This offer is only available to Engineered Network listeners for a limited time. so you should take advantage of it while you can. Thank you once again to Clubhouse for sponsoring the Engineered Network. Looking at the time component, you could always get more people. Then again, if that's just you, that's not really an option. And if you're a business, then you might not be able to afford to do that from a cost perspective, for getting more people, that costs more money. So if your only option to create space to try a new direction is to stop some or all of what you're doing, then that might be your only viable option. Sometimes people get stuck in a loop. Some say stuck in a rut, you know what I mean, grinding away at the same thing day in, day out, week in, week out, and not really achieving what they set out to. Now, in those cases, you have to go back and ask, did you set a criteria for success? And did you set goals? Again, I refer you back to episode one. I think it's totally fine though, to go back midway, partway, anyway through an endeavor and reassess, even if you didn't have any goals to start with, but you need to start by figuring out what your goals are retrospectively and then reassess against those. I also think it's really important before you change direction to consider the fallout and any of the impacts or backlash that you're likely to get, if there's likely to be any, from stopping what you're currently doing. Some people are going to love what you're doing right now, whatever you're making, whatever you're doing, and they're not going to be happy if you just pull up and stop entirely. Embrace yourself for that because they will tell you about it. Believe me, you'll hear about it. Thinking that existing customers will continue to want what you're making or doing just because you are you or your company is your company is flawed thinking. It's more driven by, is it a good product? Is it a good service? Is it entertaining or isn't it? Is it what they want? And if you don't give them what they want, then ultimately they'll find it somewhere else. They will not just follow you because you are you and they will not follow your company just because your company is your company. So the critical things to consider are things like what am I or what are we giving up by pivoting? Can we afford to lose that? Are we prepared to lose that? And with that, of course, that would mean, are we prepared to suffer any of those consequences as a result? What are our honest and realistic chances of success in the new direction? And does the best outcome of our new direction outweigh the current outcomes from our current direction? Now, a lot of that, you might say, "Maybe that's common sense." Then again, what's common sense? I'm not sure I know anymore. I suppose what I've observed in others and honestly to some extent in myself as well is that we get excited about new ideas and new directions and new plans and that brings a whole lot of enthusiasm and that's fine in good measure so long as we don't let that get in the way of what we're actually trying to achieve. So I guess then it comes back to keeping your excitement and newfound enthusiasm in check, whilst also being brutally honest about your current endeavors. Are they really so bad that you have to pivot? Would minor tweaks to what you're doing in the here and now have incrementally more benefit than suffering such a big upheaval and all the ramifications of that upheaval from pivoting? It comes back a lot to setting your goals and being honest about where you are and where you want to be heading. Think it through and don't get carried away with the excitement of a new direction. That excitement is not going to last long. And once you pivot, you might not be able to pivot back if you want to. It might be too late. That said, it could be the best decision you'll ever make and then again, it could also be the worst. Just think it through. It's up to you. If you're enjoying Analytical and want to support the show, you can via Patreon at or one word, with a thank you to all our patrons and a special thank you to our silver producers Carsten Hansen and John Whitlow, and an extra special thank you to our gold producer known only as R. Patron rewards include a named thank you on the website, a named thank you at the end of episodes, access to raw detailed show notes as well as ad-free, higher quality releases of every episode, with patron audio now also available via individual feeds in Breaker. So if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, there's lots of great rewards and beyond that, it's all really, really appreciated. Beyond that, there's lots of other ways to help like leaving a rating or review on iTunes, favoriting that episode in your podcast player app, or sharing the episode or the show with your friends via social. All of these things help others discover the show and can make a huge difference too. I'd personally like to thank Clubhouse once again for sponsoring the Engineered Network. If you're looking for an easy to use software development project management solution that everyone can use, specifically visit this URL clubhouse or to check it out and give it a try. It'll surprise you just how easy it can be. Analytical is part of the Engineer Network and you can find it at and you can follow me on the Fediverse at [email protected] or the network on Twitter at engineered_net. Accept nothing. Question everything. It's always a good time to analyze something. I'm John Chiechi, thanks again so much for listening. [Music]
Duration 12 minutes and 4 seconds Direct Download
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Show Notes

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Episode Gold Producer: 'r'.
Episode Silver Producers: Carsten Hansen and John Whitlow.
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John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

Described as the David Attenborough of disasters, and a Dreamy Narrator with Great Pipes by the Podfather Adam Curry.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.