Knowledge Is Responsibility
If you see it, you have to act on it. This may sound a bit brash, but it's a hard truth that we'll make the case has to come to light. If you've missed an opportunity and are considering a pivot, then it's important to note that the next opportunity may be the last for quite some time. So right now, it's all about quickly recognizing what that opportunity may have been, how far back it was and the conditions surrounding it that made it the missed opportunity it was. Why? Because the next one may be coming up and if you miss it again, then your singular mistake may compound significantly. If you've come to the conclusion that there was indeed an opportunity missed, then you... you have the responsibility to do something about it and right this rig.
A Quick Note
First off, you likely already know what that missed opportunity was, so we won't take time here to dive into recognizing it. Instead, we're going to focus on detailing as much information surrounding the opportunity as possible. This Blue Sky Session reviewing what happened (or didn't) will help you and your team identify the next best chance to switch gears and get back on the right track. Try and keep it to a quick session that affords everyone on your team an opportunity to voice what they view as the issue that took you off course. You'll find that the majority of the insights to gleen from this lesson will be volunteered by your existing team. Make it clear that it is your intent to course-correct (if possible) and that the goal for the team is to quickly identify the next best opportunity to do so.
As you review the missed opportunity and calculate your next move, make sure the opportunity doesn't trail off too far. The idea isn't necessarily to plot out the horizon, but merely to spot the next best moment to make the shift and get back on course with your operations. So what should you be looking for? Well, that depends on your market and service offering, but the most common junctions exist at major shifts in brand or messaging. That is, if you're planning a major brand pivot or halting or launching a major campaign, then this could be a good time to make your operational pivot. This will require a good amount of planning to coordinate (so that it doesn't inadvertently steal resources from the campaign if it's set to go in motion). Inversely, if it's a slow season coming up, then it may be an opportune time resource-wise.
Make Sure Everything's In Line
You're going to want to make certain that you've got full support behind this shift. When side-stepping, you want to pay close attention to any initiatives under way by your team and connect with them personally if this pivot could upend or coud be perceived as upending their projects. The key here is to have full support. Like a locomotive, major changes in momentum can have a ripple effect and significantly hinder the overall push you're all working to make. For this reason, planning will be imperetive and a good leader will bring everyone in, drawing in creative similarities (synergies) or even differences into the mix in order to evolve the ideal move when/if it comes about. You'll also want to build a trigger into this pivot (so that you can initiate it at a moment's notice)!
Again, knowledge is responsibility. If you have identified the missed opportunity, the best time to put this plan in motion and have spotted that ideal moment as now... then this is the moment. Do not hesitate to leap on this moment (that's what all the planning was for, remember). It's tempting to imagine this moment as the end of a long line of planning (and it is), but one way to get over or through the moment is to recognize that there is a lot of work still to be done ahead. Sure, the planning may have taken a while and getting averyone on your team coordinated with the intent of a major market pivot may have been an undertaking, but you still have plenty to do ahead... so do it. This is a decisive moment and your team will be looking to you to set the tone. Do it.
Okay, so let's recap on all that you've accomplished. You missed an opportunity way back, but you picked up on that miss, analyzed it and projected when the next best shift back to it would be. You organized a team to help you on this task and, when the time to act came, you did so. Kudos. Now is the time to watch and be ready (day and night) for any unforseen ripples. Nothing is perfect (there're always unknowns). Keep a keen eye on the operational controls as your SMB has a long tail and a lot of moving parts. This may be listening in on customer service calls, or taking VIP client meetings yourself to cool over any nervous questions. People naturally don't like instability, so you need to be there to demonstrate your team's solidarity on this shift. Make sure you're ready to adjust as needed.
In a short period, you've demonstrated the sort of humility and resolve that makes a leader great. Now is the time to learn once more and to look ahead and spot these sorts of junctions in the future. Whether this round knocked your team down or whether it was smooth rolling, the next chance your team has to pivot to the right track may not go as well. But, even if this one didn't move you to the right track, the excersize is still an opportunity in itself. How nimble is your team (truly) when put to the test? How coordinated were their efforts in seeing your vision of a pivot come to light? As mentioned, people seldom like change and most enjoy a large degree of security. But seeing as change is the game, knowing that you have each other's back (demonstratively) is its own currency.
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