You Have a Plan, Now Work the Plan

Preparing to pivot your business model means anticipating these implementation pitfalls.

Written by Alex Jimenez

  1. Leadership fails to designate a set of KPIs and monitoring plans that ensure continued ownership and ongoing enhancements of the new business model or offering. 
  2. Leadership is impatient with the pain.  The first instance of a bump in the road should not deter leaders from sticking with plan A.  This is fundamental to behaving like a startup.  

Before you roll out your new business model, make sure you have internal buy-in on the KPIs (short, medium, and long term).  Below are some helpful reminders as you define them.

  • Each KPI should have a clearly defined ownership structure (Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, and Informed – R.A.C.I.)
  • You should avoid the pitfall of only monitoring and talking about vanity metrics (more on this topic can be found here) or, worse, only measuring success based on them.  Rearview mirror management will doom you before you even get started.
  • Everything that can be measured should be measured.  Even your status reporting schedule and status meeting cadence is a measurable action.  Remember, to tackle the complex issues you need to be able to routinely handle the simple ones well.

Once you have defined all the KPIs, the reporting mechanisms and cadence, along with the accountability matrix, you need to ensure that your team understands and buys in.  This is critical and should be an open dialogue.  As we stated earlier in this series, the most transparent and open organizations will be the most likely to pivot successfully into a new business model. Once your team is onboard, it is time for the rubber to meet the road.

Patience is Key

The last piece of advice we are going to leave with you is this: be patient.  Change is hard and does not happen all at once.  Make sure you set realistic milestones for your new business model and be prepared to pivot within your new business plan. 

  • Set green light, yellow light, and red-light milestones in your implementation model.  If you are a decent driver, you do not need an explanation for what each of these represent.  The only caution I will highlight is that a red light does not necessarily mean your plan is failing, but it does mean you may need a shorter timeline to your next milestone to measure progress and decide whether to pivot within your plan.
  • As a startup, you need be flexible and nimble. Rapid implementation and iterative enhancements are the name of the game now. Do, learn, iterate.  Get feedback regularly from internal and external stakeholders. Do not let perfection be your enemy or your roadblock. 
  • Be patient.  As we mentioned before, very few of you are going to hit a home run your first time at bat.  Hit some singles and doubles.  Get some walks.  Small ball may not be sexy, but it wins championships.

In closing, pivoting your business is hard.  There is no silver bullet or magic elixir to making it successful.  Many leaders will struggle to pivot their business operations, and—in all candor—a high percentage will not the yield results they envisioned early on.  That is hard to stomach, but it is the reality of business.  That said, if you have a standardized approach to the process of pivoting it will enable you to try something new in a less chaotic, more calculated fashion.  It will allow you to be nimble because you and your team have a strong infrastructure to lean on.  Because you have laid out a detailed roadmap and clear success metrics, nobody will be surprised if you need to adjust mid-stream.  As a result of ongoing transparency and buy-in, your team will trust your leadership and decision making.  Your organization will be stronger in the long run, and that—more than anything else—will position you for success.