Is it time for you to shift your role, within your current organization or to a different organization, or to create something new that fully uses your skills and experiences? If so, it could be time to plan a pivot.
A pivot is “doubling down on what is working to make a purposeful shift in a new, related, direction,” according to Jenny Blake in her book Pivot – The Only Move that Matters is Your Next One.
You don’t need to have all the answers or know all the destinations. Instead, you can create a pivot plan and pilot small lower risk moves, assess, and keep piloting until it becomes clear.
“High net growth and impact individuals generally…believe they can accomplish what they set out to achieve,” Blake writes, “but when pivoting, they still wonder, “Am I capable of these grand ambitions I am setting out to achieve?” All of us, when we reach even higher than we have previously, or bust out of traditional norms, may wonder, Am I smart enough? Capable enough? Am I the rule or the exception? Am I cut out for this?
Blake’s Pivot Method is a cycle, not a linear process. The stages are: Plant, Scan, Pilot, and Launch.
First, “Plant” yourself. Articulate your values, strengths, and interests. Connect the dots of your past work experience themes and key activities. List your marketable skills. Recognize and list the results and impact you have had. These are who you already are and what is already working for you. Write down your one year vision for the future. The Plant helps you to set your foundation so you will be grounded as you go through the other stages.
Then “Scan” - look for opportunities while you are rooted. The scan is where you explore options and ideas, and well as identify knowledge and skill gaps. Research related skills. Talk to other people. Map out potential opportunities.
“Pilot” your idea and get feedback. Pilots are small low-risk experiments to test your new direction. This gives you real-time feedback you can use to adjust incrementally as you go, rather than relying on blind leaps. A strong Pilot, according to Blake, is one that ties experiments to your Plant stage, starts small, and tips the risk scales in your favor in terms of the most potential upside with the least downside.
All leading up to “Launching” in your new direction.
The first three stages may be repeated many times before your actually launch. This helps to reduce risk and increase likelihood of success. The other three phases are 80-90% of the pivot, and the launch is the final 10-20%.
In Pivot, Blake helps you to identify and articulate your ideal day, values, and what excites you most. And your risk tolerance. The book is jam-packed with excellent techniques to use and information to consider. There are practical, helpful exercises that enable you to identify and articulate your values, strengths, marketable skills, resources and contacts, pivot financial plan, and more.
The parts of the book that stand out for me are the ones to create your personal Happiness Formula, your One Year Vision, the Financial Foundation section, identifying your Project-Based Purpose, and the Pivot Hexagon to evaluate each project or move’s fulfilment of your values.
The Happiness Formula is a grid. On the left are two sections: Micro/Daily and Macro/Lifestyle. Horizontally along the top are three sections: Mental/Emotional/Spiritual, Physical, and Social. The idea is to “translate your values from abstract concepts into real-life practices, by filling in your own chart.” Your daily activities and morning routines that are critical to your happiness formula go into your own personal chart, alongside lifestyle factors that are important to you.
Your one year vision doesn't have to be exactly what you will be doing. It can address what you want to feel like every day. What you will prioritize. Who and what you want to be surrounded by. Where you want to work and when. What impact you want to have on others. What results you want to generate. Blake suggests writing your one year vision statement in the present tense: “I am …”
Funding your runway is part of your financial plan for how you will lead up to your pivot. Create your financial worst case scenario stages and plan for what you realistically can, and are willing to, invest in your pivot. As you clarify your risk tolerance level and how much money you are likely to go through regularly (like per month) as you are pivoting, you may find that you need to have a runway of time and money, and you might want to plan for bridge income from another short term income source as you get traction in your new direction.
Project-based purpose is your why. Your Vision is what. Your project-based purpose clarifies why you want to do certain work. Why do you want to accomplish what you want to accomplish? What or who do you want to impact - and why? Or it might be focused on how you can be most helpful to the most people.
The Pivot Hexagon is used to evaluate each project or move’s fulfilment of your values. Blake says, “There are three reciprocal pairs of values people express frequently in the midst of career change, and they sometimes conflict with each other. Three of these values express our desire for security and three represent our desire for freedom.”
Though you can create your own titles, the usual pairs are:
- Security versus Freedom
- Money versus Time Flexibility
- Structure versus Adventure
The Pivot Hexagon has a petal-like measurement section for each of these values, each numbered 1 at the centre and 5 as it moves outward. You can do an assessment of how important each of these values are to you in general, where 1 is not important and 5 is critical to you. Or another approach is that you can do a Pivot Hexagon for each different project or pilot or opportunity, to assess and compare how well each option fulfills the six values. In this case you could designate 1 as does not satisfy this need and 5 as meets this need completely.
What sets this book apart is its very pragmatic and practical approach to preparing your pivot, while honouring your individuality and inspiration.
Companion books to complement Pivot by Jenny Blake: