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There’s No Going Back: Time to PIVOT for Productivity and Profits

Presented by: Mary C. Kelly, PhD, Commander, US Navy, Retired

It is time to pivot. There’s no going back to the habits, routines, and the normal that we all enjoyed before the COVID-19 virus. Some leaders are hoping for a return to what life was like in 2019. There is no going back. Let that sink in. We are not going back. It is tempting to be nostalgic for a simpler time, when a dirty doorknob or a hotel remote was not considered a potential deadly threat.  As leaders, we cannot wallow in self-pity for a simpler time. 

The new normal is a new reality. It is time to P.I.V.O.T.

This virus has changed how many people view products, sourcing, supply chains, and inventory. It is also changed how people approach how and where they work, and how and where they interact with others.  For some, this is a great opportunity to start fresh, to reimagine, reinvent, and relaunch their business.  For others, it is more challenging.

For the past 10 years, the United States enjoyed unprecedented growth. The economy was strong, unemployment was at record lows, and businesses were flourishing.

The virus is an external shock. In economics, that is an event or impact that cannot be controlled, cannot be predicted, and has far-reaching effects.  No one could have predicted it this, we didn’t budget for this, but we do have to react and act to deal with it.

Great leaders have to understand that they need to change processes, procedures, and how their people work as situations change.  They P.I.V.O.T.


There are 5 areas to examine to start looking for opportunities and action steps to move your team forward. 


P= Purpose
People need to feel needed.  Employees need to know that what they do matters.  Great leaders imbue people with a sense of importance by listening to their ideas, getting their input, and listening to their concerns.  They help them stay focused on the goals, give them a sense of belonging, and provide them with a vision that becomes their purpose.

Great leaders exert influence and inspire others in the right ways, and they encourage those around them to do the same.  How are we using abilities to create a positive influence on our people, our customers, our communities, and our families? The Hawaiian word for this was coined by George Kanahele, “Do the right thing, at the right time, to the right person, with the right spirit, every time.” As my niece says, “Use your powers for good.”

People are struggling.  Before making a judgment or an assumption about someone at work, in a store, or at the post office, understand that people are in a volatile situation.  In the history of the world, we have never experienced anything like this. Rein in your first reaction and give people a little grace.  Every major shift comes with uncertainty.  On the volatility spectrum, assess what phase they may be in:  VagueVulnerableVexedValuable, or Victorious and act accordingly. 

Yes, the situation is serious, and we do not want to capitalize on the suffering of others, but in times of great change there are also great opportunities to serve others, shift your focus, change your product offerings, and respond to a rapidly changing market.

Ask yourself:
1. “Where is there a need in my community?”

  1. “Where is there a need in my industry?”
  2. “What do my customers need now?”
  3. “How can we serve them in the best possible ways?”
  4. “If I was starting from zero, where would I focus my energies?” 

What do we need to use, learn, or develop moving forward?  What do we need to upgrade? Who can we contact for advice? What do we need to learn how to do? 

To pivot, we need to be not only looking forward, we need to be taking action to move forward.  Pivoting involves changing course, strategizing on how to best serve the changing needs of our markets and communities, and helping others through the difficulties.  

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