Planning Your Unique Business Pivot

Submitted by Mary Meade on October 9, 2020
Photo by MA WENJUAN on Unsplash

Guest blog by Green Business Network member Mark J. Guay, P.C., Strategic Legal Solutions

In his famous book “Travels with Charley – In Search of America”, the equally famous author John Steinbeck, traveled with his dog Charley, across America in the troubled time of the 1960s.  He mused at the end of the book that “In the beginning of this record I tried to explore the nature of journeys, how they are things in themselves, each one an individual, and no two alike. I speculated with a wonder on the strength of the individuality of journeys, and stopped on the postulate that people don't take trips – trips take people.” 

Taking a look back at 2020 and headed into Q4, one can also easily quote the famous rock song lyric “What a long strange trip it’s been”.  So if the 2020 pandemic trip took you somewhere, where did it take you?  Perhaps it made you ask, what should I “Keep Doing, Stop Doing, or Do More of”?  The newspapers are replete with stories of some businesses that have failed, and others that have reframed what their core business is really about, and then pivoted successfully.  But the one thing we can agree on is that, from restaurants, to retail, to real estate agents, and more, things have changed, big time.  

So how will the journey in Q4 go for your business?  Will it be the end of the road, or perhaps will you be taking “the road less travelled”.  So how do you handle it?  In her seminal book “Gray Rhinos” by Michelle Wucker, she defines a “gray rhino” as a “highly probable, high impact, threat”.  She compares a crisis event to a charging rhino on an African safari she was on.  Why?  When faced with a charging rhino, doing nothing is not an option.  Her 5 stages of Gray Rhino risk problem solving boils down to DENIAL, MUDDLING, DIAGNOSING, DECISION-MAKING, and then finally ACTING [or re-acting].  Each stage of the decision-making process has discrete issues to overcome to get to the next stage, which she details very well.  And “time is of the essence” as we say in contract law.

So what stage are you on in addressing the pandemic in Q4 - 2020?  Are you still denying, panicking, or perhaps pivoting?  From my perspective, I condensed the author's recommendations into 3 steps; 

    [1] define your gray rhino, 
    [2] create accountability systems, and then
    [3] practice “trial and learning” solutions. 

Remember, there is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL “baseball cap” solution. You need to create a ONE SIZE FITS ONE strategy for your company.  You still have a quarter of the year left to pivot successfully with the right strategic planning.  As General Eisenhower once said, “plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. So keep on searching and strategizing to see where it takes you.  

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