Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Here is the rough transcription for Episode 14 of the Invisible Solutions podcast. It’s not perfect, but if you prefer reading vs listening, this is the way to go. Enjoy!


Don’t Pivot; Divot!

What if pivoting is the wrong strategy for your organization right now?

Welcome to Invisible Solutions. I’m your host, Stephen Shapiro.

Each week, we tackle your most complex problems using the lenses from my book, Invisible Solutions®. If you need the lenses, go to getthelenses.com.

With that let’s get started with today’s episode.

Today, we’re going to talk about why pivoting isn’t always the right strategy, especially right now when the world is going a little crazy.

Pivoting is basically saying we’re going to go in a different direction. We were doing this, and now we’re going to do that. We were focused on one set of activities. Now, we’re going to do a different set of activities. We were offering one product. Now, we’re going to offer a different product. We had one service and we’re going to offer a different service.

Pivoting is used as a way of getting people to think about shifting direction.

In some respects, it might be somewhat synonymous with adapting. And if you’ve followed my work, you know I’m a big believer in adapting. I think that being adaptable/being nimble is actually one of the most important things that we can do. Because it’s one of the ultimate goals of innovation.

The reason why we want to innovate is not for novelty. It’s not for changing direction. It’s not for new ideas. It is to be adaptable so that we can stay relevant.

What we want to do is be relevant. And being adaptable is part of that. But there are times when actually we can adapt too much or we can change too much. We can change without purpose.

All of our changes should be very purposeful. One of the things I want you to consider is that although we need to shift some parts of our business given the pandemic, maybe there are other parts of a business which should stay the same.

We talk about pivoting and about changing direction.

But I want you to just bear with me for a moment as I describe a different concept.

One of the things which I enjoy doing, although I don’t get to do it very often, is golfing.

I’m not a great golfer. I’m a pretty bad golfer. I have a pretty good drive, but when it came to being on the fairway, well those chip shots, I’m not very good.

And one of the things that would happen if you’re a golfer and you’re not very good, is sometimes you go a little too deep. You go a little too deep. Instead of hitting the ball, you actually go deep and you hit the grass. And a big chunk of grass goes flying.

They call that a divot. That big clump of grass is a divot.

I started thinking about this and what I realized is maybe sometimes the strategy is not to pivot, but to divot. Instead of changing direction, maybe we want to go deep.

I think what happens is in businesses, in a lot of cases, is we get focused on bright, shiny objects. New opportunities. Things that look interesting and different.

And this is not just now during a pandemic. I’m talking about any time in business. In fact, when things are good, we often pivot because we get enamored with novelty (and we have more money to spend).

I’m just going to use my business as an example so you can get a better understanding of what I’m referring to. Most of my business has been around giving speeches, writing books, and providing advisory services.

Over the years, I’ve published six books. And what was interesting is each of those books were different. One book was called Goal-Free Living, which is about how to live a life without goals. Not exactly a hardcore business book, but something which I was pretty proud of. I also wrote Personality Poker®, which is a book around personality styles related to innovation. And then I wrote Best Practices are Stupid.

I could have for my next book, my most recent book, gone in another direction. Gone broader. More philosophical.

Instead what I decided to do is take one of the chapters from Best Practices are Stupid. This chapter talked about asking better questions. People became very interested in that.
What they realized was, it’s easy to say, ask better questions as a way of driving better solutions, but to actually do it is much more complicated.

So as soon as that book came out, I decided to, instead of going onto the next concept, the next idea, I decided to take one of the ideas from that book and go deep.

I decided to divot.

And that’s when I started developing Invisible Solutions. All of the work that you are hearing me talk about right now actually started 10 years ago when my previous book was published and people said, “I like this one chapter. I don’t know how to do it.”

And this has been a game changer for me.

The more I got into the depth of my content, rather than trying to find the next bright, shiny object, the bigger and better my business has gotten.

The divot can be very powerful, because if you’re always pivoting, if you’re always changing direction, you’re creating inefficiencies in your business. And it’s also going to make it harder for your customers to understand who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. So instead of asking yourself, “what’s next?”, or “what’s new?”, ask ybest ourself, “what now?”.

What could you do to go deeper, to go further, to leverage your strengths and to be able to offer even more of yourself to your customers?

If you’re known for customer service, focus there. Instead of moving on to a new opportunity or area of the business, ask, “How can we go even deeper and to providing the best, the best customer service?”

One company that I’ve talked about a lot, I wrote about them in Best Practices or Stupid is USAA. They’re a military-focused financial services company. They’re amazing at this. They do a brilliant job. Their goal is to serve those who serve the country. It’s all about customer service. And as a result, they are consistently one of the top ranked companies across all industries in customer service.
They go deeper. They focus on customer service for people in the military. Instead of trying to go broader, they go deeper. They go better.

Think about what you’ve developed. Instead of trying to develop the next hot new product, maybe you go deeper on the product you have.

One famous example of this is Steve jobs.

When he gwentt back to Apple in 1997, he didn’t focus on more products. They had so many products. In fact, it was getting a little difficult for them to explain what Apple was all about. What he did instead at that time was he simplified the lineup to only four sets of products.

There was the iMac, Power Mac, iBook, and Power Book. At that time, this actually was transformative for the company because they were able to go deeper into those areas. Over time they’ve diversified. As they’ve gotten bigger and more successful with a larger market share, they could do that.

This raises another important point to recognize. Whatever advice you take from anyone, including what I’m giving you right now, context matters. Look at your organization. Look at the resources you have in your organization. If you can add more, that’s great. Maybe you can pivot and divot. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Ask yourself, where can you go deeper? Why do customers do business with you – and focus your energies there. Because if you try to be the best at everything, it means you’re probably going to be the best at nothing.

To be clear, you should not go deep in an area that risks becoming irrelevant due to advanced technologies, shifting buyer behaviors, or new entrants. You need to stay current. Pivot when it is needed, not just because it feels like it is time to change.

Each year I choose a theme for my business. In 2019, I decided that 2020 was going to be all about virtual and local. Well, I got the virtual part right without knowing it was going to happen the way it did. For 2021, my theme is ongoing relationships. My business for the past 20 years now has been largely – not a hundred percent, but largely – speeches. Sort of transactions. One and done. Get in, give a speech, and leave. Maybe there’s a little bit more around the periphery, but that’s been a core of my business.

For 2021, I am shifting that. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to do the keynotes. But the keynote isn’t the end. It’s actually the start. I want to have ongoing relationships. I want to go deeper.

I want to be able to take my content and actually transform the performance of an organization. Applying the approaches, the tools, the methodologies that I have around innovation and problem solving. That’s divoting.

What is the equivalent of divoting for you and your business?

To close. I want to say that innovation is not always about doing something new or different. And I think that’s one of the mistakes we’ve made as we’ve collapsed innovation and novelty. They are not the same. Innovation and novelty are not synonyms.

Innovation is about relevancy. And in some cases, you don’t need to be novel, new, different, or change direction in order to drive innovation.

Sometimes innovation is actually about going deeper. About focus. About depth. It can be about mastery and it can be about leverage.

How can we take what we do and actually give our customers, our clients, our patients more of it? Not something different, not something new, but more of what we already offer. Give them the best of your best, and more of it.

What I’d like you to think about over the next week is how you are going to divot your business. How are you going to go deeper? What do your customers and clients want from you? Where they’re saying, I need more, I want more, I have to have more.

Where are they saying they would like to actually have more of a relationship with you? Move away from transactions; go to relationships.

And with that, we are at the end of today’s episode. We will get back to the lenses next week where we’re going to have a conversation around how changing just one word in a problem statement can unleash a completely different range of solutions.

That’s going to be a really interesting one, so be sure to join me next week.

But we are now at the end of this episode. As always, if you want to submit a problem to be solved in this podcast, go to www.invisiblesolutionspodcast.com.

Again, if you want to have the lenses to be able to use while you’re trying to do some problem solving, go to getthelenses.com.

I look forward to being with you next week. And until then, happy problem solving.

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