3 Examples Of Pivoting That Can Impact Your Business

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Wiser words have never been said.

Lockdown has taught people worldwide the importance of adapting to new situations (I promise I will not use the phrase “the new normal” once during this post). Whether it’s working from home, grappling with the Zoom mute button or not waking up at 1pm on a Sunday £150 lighter, we’ve all been thrust into the new normal (gotcha) quickly and without warning.

The ability to adjust and thrive in new situations is an incredibly important one, and is a building block of evolutionary progress as a whole. I wanted to talk about some high profile examples of organisations and individuals who have adapted to unforeseen circumstances in brilliant and unique ways, and hopefully you can take these learnings into your daily life.

Burbn Becomes Instagram

You most likely came to this site from either my personal or blog-specific Instagram page. Instagram is an absolutely gargantuan platform, with roughly a billion monthly active users and is one of the most dynamic and versatile social media platforms out there at the moment.

However, it wasn’t always this way. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, and Instagram walked a fine line between brilliance and bankruptcy when it first started. It began life as a platform called Burbn, founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger in San Francisco (shocking). Burbn was actually more complex than Instagram, with features for planning meet-ups with friends, a point system for attending social gatherings and a way to check into bars and coffee shops to let your friends know what you were up to.

However, there’s a phrase in software engineering called “feature creep” which is basically a programmer who is obsessed with putting more and more features into a program. Burbn fell victim of that, hard. It’s layout and mechanics were too confusing and it quickly stagnated.

Systrom and Kreiger analysed the app data however and found that users were primarily using the photo sharing feature and eschewing the other features. They deduced this was due to the universal language of photo sharing; it doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can understand someone’s photo. They trimmed Burbn down to just a photo sharing site and renamed it Instagram.

Lesson learned – Sometimes simpler is better. Don’t be afraid to cut down or cut out unnecessary additions to something you are working on, and focus on what’s working well for you.

Michael Jordan Gets Jacked

First things first, watch The Last Dance on Netflix, I’ll wait.

Now that’s done, we can focus in on one element of Michael Jordan’s career. Despite being the best to ever do it (up for debate but I’m going to win because I can’t hear you right now), Michael Jordan’s early career wasn’t an instant success. In his first season, his team the Chicago Bulls were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, in his second he broke his foot, and in his third season he was knocked out again in the first round of the playoffs.

After finally making it out of the first round of the playoffs in his fourth season, MJ ran into arguably his biggest rivals, the Detroit Pistons, at the time dubbed “The Bad Boy Pistons” for basically being as violent as you can be whilst trying to chuck a ball through a hoop.

The Pistons absolutely battered Jordan, even going as far as punching him during layups and just generally being pretty mean.

This happened for 3 straight years.

MJ would play great, athletic basketball and the Pistons would punch, kick and shove their way past him each time.

Deciding enough was enough, Michael Jordan went to work in the summer of 1990. Incorporating a weight lifting regiment into his training, MJ gained about 15lbs (roughly a stone, or 6.8kg) of muscle to prepare for the next season.

And it worked!

The Chicago Bulls went on to beat the Pistons in the 1991 NBA playoffs, mainly due to the fact that the Pistons could no longer utilise their cerebral tactic of “he’s going for a layup, punch him in the back of the head” as effectively any more.

Lesson learned – If all else fails, put on 15lbs of muscle as quickly as you can. Or to focus on continuous improvement, even when it’s tempting to lay back and do nothing, because it will pay off.

KFC launch the FCK campaign

The year is 2018. I’m at university, and way too many of my weekly meals consist of KFC due to a perfect storm of it being a one minute walk from my house and my most complex culinary creation being tuna pasta. However, 2018 was the year that the company who based their entire menu around chicken, ran out of chicken.

You might think this would cause an internal meltdown and it kind of did given the whole “unable to make a profit” thing, but KFC launched a marketing campaign to deal with some of the queries and backlash (I use that word tentatively because it’s just fried chicken).

Their “FCK” campaign addressed the problem jovially, and clearly and accurately explained the problem without overpromising and was generally well received. The whole campaign turned a potentially brand breaking situation into a masterclass in crisis management, delivered in a funny way.

Lesson learned – It’s okay to screw up, be open about your shortcomings and humour goes a long way. Also, if you are at university, try and learn some recipes that don’t involve pasta or sauce from a jar.

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