How to Pivot

The term “pivot” has become popular recently as a descriptor for the change a business must undergo to when it changes course.

Every business and ministry has to do it sometime; the question is how.

I spoke with a friend about his business.  He is experiencing a higher volume of work, but in the process he is finding that he is not staffed properly to handle the increase in volume.  In order to hire more staff, however, he would need more income than he does at present.

In the meantime quality is slipping and balls are occasionally being dropped because too few people are trying to do too much.

What to do?


In order to pivot, however, you need to know where you are going.  If you don’t have a goal in mind, you will get there fast!  If you know where you are headed, though, you can put a plan into place to reach that goal.

Here are a few steps that have been helpful for me:

  1. Plan a day or a significant block of time away from the office and electronics.  Looking ahead into the future of your company or ministry requires a distraction-free environment.  In Rochester, NY, I used to occasionally rent a room at a local Prayer House run by a convent.  For $15 a day I had my own room with recliner, bed, desk, and bathroom.  If you are doing this exerecise with a group of people, plan accordingly.
  2. Pray for guidance.  God has the true bird’s-eye view; why would you try to do this yourself?
  3. Describe (I prefer to do this on a whiteboard) where you see your ministry or business in 5 or 10 years or just on the other side of your present growth challenges.  Describe what you want your business or ministry to be doing.  Be specific.  DO NOT use vision speak (example: “I want to impact the world for Christ.”)  Instead, “I want to erase hunger in the inner city by providing food for those who do not have it.”
  4. List the kinds of roles people will need to play in order for your ministry or business to accomplish your targeted activities.
  5. List all of your present employees or volunteers, as the case may be.  Write the names of people you feel would best fill a particular spot in the future.  DO NOT just copy and paste from your present org chart.  Disengage yourself from personal feelings about individuals here and cooly assess each person’s skills in order to properly place them.  You want each individual to be successful in the new environment, and you want your business or ministry to succeed.  Choosing an individual for a role you know he is unable to do well will only hurt your ministry or business and prevent the individual from finding their true niche.
  6. Identify the roles that have not been filled and the people who have not been re-assigned.  You now know who you need to find and, unfortunately, who you may have to let go over the life of your “pivot.”
  7. Design a plan of attack to implement these staffing changes.

You will probably need to do this process many times.  What programs do you keep or end?  What property do you keep or sell?

Easier said than done?  True.  Especially when you might have to change someone’s job description or even let someone go.

In the end, however, everyone will win if you honestly evaluate and plan.

What kind of pivot do you, your ministry, or your business need to undergo?

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