The Pitfalls of Pivoting

The Pitfalls of Pivoting

Remember this?

These days, in the midst of a global pandemic and economic crisis, it often feels like we are living out this scene every day.  There’s not a day that goes by where people aren’t telling me about how they’re pivoting their product or service.  Some of this is evolutionary, such as starting to meet with clients virtually instead of face-to-face.  Other examples are much more revolutionary, such as completely overhauling a product line or attempting to serve an entirely new target market.

I get it.  I’m pivoting as well.  As someone who facilitates experiential learning programs and delivers keynote addresses at large events, things have to change.  However, there can be significant pitfalls associated with pivoting if it’s not done the right way.  This is because embracing change will never work long-term unless it’s held in tension with preserving stability.  It’s similar to breathing – if all I do is inhale (i.e. embrace change) and forget to exhale (i.e. hold onto stability), before long I’m going to be blue in the face.

As this graphic illustrates, there are positive results that can only come from both embracing change and preserving stability; and, there are negative results that are inevitable if you overdo one side to the neglect of the other.

Slide1 c

Reflect on the past month. Have you been open to new ways of doing things based on organizational demands, and innovative ways to serve your clients based on their real-time needs? Are you clear on your core values and best practices, and have systems in place to ensure they don’t get left behind in a season of change? Take a look at the graphic below and assess which of the four quadrants you are currently living in.

Slide2 b

We are dealing with one of the most challenging times in living history.  Organizations are being put to the test, and some will not make it through the storm.  Embracing change and innovation – or pivoting as many people are saying – is critical to success.  However, there are pitfalls to pivoting. Leaders must be mindful that change and stability mustbe held in tension.   The amount of energy being invested into to pivoting must also be invested into ensuring core values, organizational reputation, and best practices are unwavering.


Next Steps:


  • What is something you can start, stop or continue doing to gain or maintain the positive results associated with pivoting and embracing change?
  • What is something you can start, stop or continue doing to gain or maintain the positive results that come from preserving stability?



  • What are signs and indicators that change is being overdone to the neglect of stability?
  • What are signs and indicators that stability is being overdone to the neglect of change?




Tim Arnold is passionate about helping leaders increase their resilience and deliver results.  He is the author of The Power of Healthy Tension and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can leverage tension for team, leadership, and organizational success.

Tim Arnold

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