When I was in high school, I played basketball in the position of “power” forward. My coaches were constantly on me to learn how to pivot off the post (upper and lower) to create passing and scoring opportunities not only for me, but even more so for my faster, more nimble and ultimately more talented teammates. I guess what got me here might get us there someday?
Since I started W2O group 13 years ago — then known as WeissComm (some still call it that today) — we have been doing just that at increasingly high rate of speed and frequency. While we have always navigated and embraced change every six months or so here, that change is happening at least every three months. Much like it is in the world around us in which we partner and serve, change is the new normal. The art of the pivot has never been more critical.
And so as we scale and grow to 400 or more people all striving to become the best, the trick will not only be me practicing my pivoting skills ever more often and well, but coaching my team to do the same and “play it forward” so that they too allow faster, more nimble and talented team members the ability to score and scale effectively. It really is not about winning or losing anymore, but staying in the game and executing powerfully by passing, assisting, rebounding and scoring to remain relevant and add value to our clients’ businesses.
Being able to pivot essentially means three things:
- Understanding where you are at any given time on the court – In a business sense, it means how we are perceived by clients, prospects, pundits, and competitors and how we are positioned as a firm.
- Knowing where the opportunities are – For us, constantly looking to disrupt the status quo in all we do.
- Looking for the right pass – Again, in our world, supporting and rallying around each other so we can provide the right solution for clients and collaborating seamlessly to deliver flawlessly for them reliably and consistently.
We have successfully pivoted from just one small firm focused solely on public relations and advocacy, earned media and investor relations for mostly start-up biotechnology and device companies. Now, we are a set of diverse firms in many locations providing integrated communications strategies and solutions for some of the world’s most well-known brands, companies and causes in healthcare, technology and other regulated and innovative business sectors. In addition to those things we have always done well and been known for, we are now executing and delivering social business analytics that identify and target key influencers and creating agile targeted content based on those analytics — and we are continuing to pivot from there to become an advertising and digital “un-agency” of record beyond or in addition to multi-language analytics, PR and IR.
Like in my long-gone basketball days, sometimes we pivot into oncoming elbows in the face causing bruises, bumps and even sometimes blood, but the key is to never give up because most pivots lead to major scoring opportunities.
Just as coaches drilled into me, being able to pivot takes practice and requires focus. You must be self-aware of what’s going around you and knowledgeable about the people on your team – specifically their strengths.
Put it all together and your chances of winning are increased exponentially.
We are in the midst of revolutionary change today and so there are many ways to play successfully – in basketball, business, and life – as long as you are willing and able to practice and follow through on the pivot.