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Slang HR Needs to Know: "PIVOT"

Here's a tech/silicon valley term HR pros need to know: "Pivot".  Let's start with the definition of the type of pivot I'm talking about.  

The Pivot - Sudden shift in strategy that turns a mediocre idea into a billion-dollar company.  Try out new ideas, shed them quickly if they don't catch on, and move on to the next new thing. Pivots-final-large

How it's used:

--“Look at Groupon.  They started out as some political chat forum, pivoted, and now they’re worth freaking $5B.”

--“Like, you know, every startup needs to  pivot like two or three times before locking-in on its final strategy.  That’s the nature of innovation.”

Here's a nice example - Instagram, which started out as a virtual "check-in" site and wound up as a photo-sharing service, is a recent high-profile example.

How's the "pivot" apply to HR?  Our industry is pretty intent on being conservative and getting it right when we do something - often because we do massive rollouts of HR branded stuff to all employees.  What we probably ought to be doing is to never roll out a new HR product/service/feature without testing it in a pilot of less than 10% of our employee base - probably much less than that, actually.  

New performance management process?  Roll out it out to single department - find what's broken, and pivot.  Do it differently until everyone thinks you not only got it right, but that you're a world-class HR shop.

Tech's pivot is your pilot.  Run pilots more and tell people you're testing with live data.  Let them give feedback.  Change your stuff up as a result and roll it out.

Pivot.  If you look around, you'll see 3-4 things you've waited way too long to pivot on.  You're already failing in some of those things if you look closely.  Could a pivot and the resulting skunkworks project really be worse to your customers (i.e. employees)?

Pivot on something this week.  


Buzz Rooney

Love this article. I've applied this a lot in dealing with my staff and never had a good term for it. "Pilot" carries a negative connotation for the folks not in the pilot group because they end up feeling left out and not as good -- but guinea pig isn't good for the group trying something new and different in a positive way for the first time. Same goes for Beta testing. Now I have a new term. Thanks.

Jay Kuhns

Great post Kris...thanks for keeping us all on track.

Sean Conrad

Great post.

Fail fast, learn, and pivot. Iterate iterate iterate.

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