Pivoting and achieving strategic coherence
Pivoting is one of the hot new buzzwords to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with good reason.
It was a key strategy for companies that were facing quick extinction during the first waves of the pandemic. When these companies were no longer able to trade as they normally would, they saw a gap in the market and quickly positioned themselves for that.
Examples are car manufacturers, GM and Ford, which started producing ventilators when car sales dipped. Locally, alcohol delivery company Bottles, turned to on-demand grocery delivery when alcohol sales were banned, growing their business by 200% during lockdown. After a few months of doing so, were successfully acquired by Pick N Pay to be their delivery arm for all their products. That level of dexterity takes some risk taking, but also needs some key elements to be in place to take off successfully.
What does it really take to pivot?
Many companies have lived through 2020, but they are not out of the woods yet and their survival depends on making their next move, the right move.
When considering your pivot strategy a key question should be – do we have the natural right to win? Is our company the best at what it does? Do we have something that adds value to the end user? Will anyone miss us if our product disappears off the shelf? A right to win is the ability to participate in any competitive market with a good odd of success, not just in the short term, but over time.
You need to examine your internal capability as a lens to direct your strategy. First, does your organization have the inherent capability to change. Your organisation needs to have systems that are robust enough to adapt to new demands and embrace innovative ways of production while meeting quality standards. Your operational systems need to be nimble enough to quickly deploy new technology or rollout new distribution networks without too many hitches, otherwise your attempt to open new revenue streams will be an expensive flop.
Your strategy cannot be insular. For your new proposition to stick, it needs to resonate with your customers. This is where credibility and a strong brand are immense assets.
Apart from your systems, you need a killer team on your side. Given the extra challenges of teams working remotely without the benefit of face-to-face collaboration, implementing change at this time can be more difficult than usual.
Having a top-level team that has sharp skills, a high-performance mindset and the tenacity to overcome challenges is non-negotiable. A lack of technical skill or a defeatist attitude are show-stoppers for companies facing wave after wave of disruption to ‘business as usual’.
Culture drives success and effective communication as an executive is key to ensuring that employees feel included and know what their role in any transition is. According to an SMARP survey, 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy.
Across all industries and locations, the quality of leadership has been laid bare and it is clear that brave, visionary leadership is required to navigate a strong pivot. Indecisive management will lead to lost opportunities, under-commitment of resources and failure.
The risk of inexperienced or immature leadership is having ‘Shiny ball syndrome’, where the decision makers constantly change their minds about what the priorities are based on what they ‘think’ will be the next big thing, without any real basis for such a judgement call.
Closing the gap between strategy pivot and execution
In “Strategy That Works,” Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi identify conventional business practices that result in a misalignment between strategy and execution. Based on research, the authors reveal five practices for connecting strategy and execution used by highly successful enterprises such as IKEA, Natura, Danaher, Haier, and Lego. These companies:
- Commit to what they do best instead of chasing multiple opportunities.
- Build their own unique winning capabilities instead of copying others.
- Put their culture to work instead of struggling to change it.
- Invest where it matters instead of going lean across the board.
- Shape the future instead of reacting to it.
Your strategy needs to be able to leverage all your strengths, from your assets, such as machinery, IT infrastructure, as well as intangibles such as business networks and alliances. Businesses which have pivoted successfully, have had to often enter markets that already had strong incumbents, and doing so requires prior inside knowledge of the terrain they are entering.
A strong strategy leverages every single advantage and optimises elements that weaker competitors don’t even see. If you are working on your next pivot, we will be happy to help you create a cohesive strategy that is relevant and high impact.
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SuperLead Advisory is a 100% Black-owned strategy, operations and leadership consulting firm. We offer our clients tailored strategic and leadership interventions based on data-driven insights and deep industry knowledge to achieve tangible and sustainable improvements to business performance.
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