• Cat Graham

The Power of the Pivot

We all try to have a plan. We plan our day, our meeting schedules, our deliverables. We even plan work-backs to make sure we are being as organized and planful as possible. Planning is good. Scheduling is good.

We are also all human, and factors in our personal and professional lives can create havoc with our neatly laid out plans. Change is bad, predictable is good.

Or is it?

Some of the very best work I have seen done by my team at Cheer Partners execute is when the wrench is thrown into the mix, when the plan deviates and when we are forced to come up with plan B. Our team, working with a long-standing client, measured the results of a piece of intranet content and found they were lower than we had hoped. We knew to meet the client’s goals, we had to change our approach. We recommended that we try a visual storyboard for the next content rollout. We had very little time and knew it was risky, but we ended up with content that had the highest engagement numbers by far for this group and was repurposed for training.

There is a saying by Albert Einstein, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” But he is equally famous for another saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” What makes the magic is what we dare to try or are forced to change. Nothing is static. People change, organizations change, and by nature, our approach to work and life should change. Information and data points help inform where we need to make alterations to plans. We are more conscious of our physical health because we have a phone that counts our steps. Nutritional awareness has come such a long way that as a country we have reduced obesity. Instagram and LinkedIn were created because of the need to change the way we communicate with each other and stay in touch. Change is constant, and instead of resisting it, we should develop methods to embrace it.

One of the ways we can adapt and accept change is through better preparation. It sounds counterintuitive but hear me out. The more mystery books you read, the better your deductive reasoning; so, when a mystery shows up in real life, you have an approach. The same applies to work. The more you expand your knowledge in your field, the more perspectives you develop and you can begin to see things through a different lens. When a budget or audience changes, you can be prepared to adapt or pivot to achieve results. Reading case studies, thought leadership and attending webinars all help you to build an arsenal to be prepared when things go right, wrong or simply change. These ideas are even more true now during the COVID-19 pandemic and the vital social justice movements across the nation and the world. Plans change in our personal and professional lives, and the quicker we can adapt the program, the less stress we feel and the more control we gain.

The ability to pivot is powerful and like anything novel and untested, does come with risk. You can manage your risk with preparation, having your ideas challenged by teammates and doing your research. When there wasn’t a budget to bring everyone together for a town hall, and the client didn’t want a bunch of people on a conference bridge zoning out, we created an experiential town hall that was engaging and really resonated with the audience of ten thousand people. When another client couldn’t get buy-in on an established plan we created, we flipped the script and came up with something everyone was really on board with. All of our award-winning work at Cheer Partners was due to calculated risk-taking and pivoting. I encourage everyone to develop this superpower and I look forward to the success it can bring in any facet of your life. Big or small, the pivot can be your very best tool.