Punt on a “Pivot.”
I’m a proud member of “Metaphors Anonymous” and a self-avowed “punner” (different than a “pundit,” who are the real smart folks). Metaphors and puns are woven into my existence and my writing, for better or worse. Similes make me smile.
And while I don’t particularly like war analogies (“target customers,” “make a killing,” and “take no prisoners” should be left on the battlefield), I do have a fondness for the occasional sports analogy, especially basketball.
Take “pivot” for example, a popular word in the corporate world, as evidenced by this article featuring eight kinds of business pivots. It’s also part of common jargon in Silicon Valley, describing a start-up that needs to change its strategy. But, in crazy times like this, it’s not just start-ups that are pondering a pivot, it’s all companies.
The upside of a pivot in basketball is it gives you other options on where you can pass or shoot. But being stationery also means you can get swarmed by defenders, and often means you’re not dribbling any more. There are legendary stories of Nokia pivoting from paper mills and Twitter originally being a podcast platform, but they’re the exceptions not the rules. Pivots can be expensive, confusing, or distract you from your core values. They can also signal you’re lost. Yes, pivots are necessary on occasion, but beware of the premature pivot. Sometimes, you pivot just as your customers are learning about your true value proposition.
Given we would have been smack-dab in the midst of the NBA Finals right now, what are some alternative basketball metaphors you might embrace in business?
- Alley-oop: “A designed play in which a player lobs the ball toward the basket and a teammate jumps up, catches the ball in midair, and usually dunks it.”
How could you create more collaboration on your sales team so they can exhibit this awe-inspiring, mind-reading move that usually brings fans and maybe your co-workers to their feet?
- Hack: “A foul.”
Businesspeople used to hate hackers, but Facebook’s headquarters is on Hacker’s Way. A hack can be a clever, resourceful fix that means you don’t have to pivot.
- Nothin‘ but net: “A shot that goes through the rim without touching the rim or any other part of the basket.”
This is a good sign that you’re in the flow with your work and creative life. Also, good news for the road warrior when your Wi-Fi signal is strong.
- 21: “A game in which multiple players compete against each other at the same time. You make a shot, you go to the foul line.”
When the odds are stacked against you as everyone is knocking down your ideas. Also, the age of your company’s new Chief Technology Officer.
- Coach: “Even the best players in the world rely on coaches to help them improve their games. The coach sets the emotional tone for the team, devises strategies, and calls timeouts to regroup and refocus.”
Now is a perfect time to coach and be coached, maybe even as a “mentern” (mentor and intern at the same time), where both sides get the win.
- Walk: “To travel.”
Those of us in the hospitality industry are praying for this. Go take a walk!