‘A pivot is a change in strategy, not vision’. Quoting The Lean Startup author Eric Ries at a breakfast on when and how to pivot, Decoded co-founder Richard Peters presented its new cyber security app to members of The Supper Club and LEAP 100 for feedback on how best to launch it.
Speaking at a breakfast organised by The Entrepreneur Network at the offices of Mishcon de Reya, Richard shared insights on the pivot process at Decoded, which advises some of the world’s top businesses on innovation, cybersecurity, demystifying digital and dealing with data.
It all starts with company culture, as Richard explained: “We have found that there is a lot of support for the pivot from employees, particularly millennials who want to be part of building something new. Our vision is to be the world’s best tech education business. Everyone knows the direction of travel but they have the freedom to decide how we get there. New people coming into our business have bought into our vision but positively influenced our way of working.”
The pivoting process requires more than idea; as Richard explains: “We have built an innovation culture where people are encouraged to invent and test, using weekly sprints and OKRs to keep people on track. Testing should be a driver for strategy. A pivot only happens when you do something and testing produces something.”
Focusing debate on the best time to pivot, Venntro Media Group founder Ross Williams said: “When the sun is shining, fix the roof”, adding that no business is immune to disruption.
“When to pivot depends on the lifecycle of the business, ideally when you have stable, growing revenues; but striking the right balance is vital,” added Andrew Rimmington, a partner at Mishcon de Reya who represents clients specialising in financial technology, software, SaaS, IaaS and other high tech services. “It is important to maintain focus on the core profitable business and ensure that the creative team does not simply apply a scatter gun approach to new ideas, which may divert management time and money. Some business owners spend years and burn through a lot of cash on an idea that was destined to fail. A lean startup approach to test a proof of concept is as useful for discovering bad ideas as it is for confirming good ones.”
Engaging customers, investors and other stakeholders in the validation of new products and services can deliver unexpected benefits; as Richard concluded: “We tested our prototype with clients and showed them how we had applied their feedback in the next version, and the next. This made them advocates as they helped to develop it. As they asked for new functions, it highlighted new trends and opportunities.”
Agile entrepreneurs can also build an invention eco-system to support the pivot, as Andrew advised. “Use strategic alliances to accelerate development, access a wider client base, and prove the concept.”