EM 183| How Do You Know When to Pivot? [An Executive Minds Replay]


There will come a time in all of our lives and careers where we will need to make a change. Whether that means shifting your academic focus early in life or your organizational focus after you’ve established your career, we would all do well to become masters of the pivot. In basketball, pivoting is helpful because it allows you to shift your direction and create an advantage relative to your defender. You remain anchored in place, but with a fresh direction you can often see a clearer path to the basket. This week on the podcast, David and Shane discussed what they call the 5 “M’s” of pivoting: Mission, Methods, Momentum, Means, and Membership.

Mission: Your mission drives you personally and professionally. If a mission changes or no longer inspires, it may be time to pivot. Alternatively, if you’ve accomplished your mission - that’s a great time to look for a new direction.

Methods: At some point, you may need to change the ways in which you accomplish your goals. Think of it as attacking from a different angle - a fresh direction is sometimes needed in order to regain an advantage.

Momentum: Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states that an object will stay in motion or at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. If you find that your momentum has been stalled by a force either external or internal, you’ll need that extra boost to get you to your goal. David gives the example of the US Postal Service providing last mile delivery services to Amazon products - choosing instead of losing market share to Amazon, USPS is creating momentum by tapping into customer needs and providing their expertise.

Means: You either have more or you need more - either situation can inspire a pivot. If you are blessed with an abundance of resources, you may need to shift direction to be a better steward of that. On the other hand, if you find yourself with a lack of resources that need to be made up - a shift in direction can be the catalyst by which you find yourself making up that gap.

Membership: We will all experience turnover within teams and organizations. The necessity for a pivot here is most prevalent when we experience a change in leadership. Everyone’s leadership styles are different and we should expect to shift direction somewhat when we encounter a change at the top.