How to Thrive when Shift Happens

By Ann
July 13, 2020

When shift happens and the world is rearranged, how do you emerge from a place of surviving to thriving? The coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession have been felt around the world. If your business has not been affected directly, someone connected to your business or to you have been dealt quite a blow. In some cases, a death blow. We are all connected, and the current situation proves this.

The enormous cost is unimaginable:

Businesses have closed and some will never reopen

Revenue streams have dried up

People are laid off and have no income

Decisions about the future are clouded with uncertainty

People are sick and dying

Strategic plans are of little use

Experience does not connect to the unknown future

What is the root of the problem?

At the core is an unprecedented jolt to the way we do business and conduct our lives. To stay safe, we have quarantined, shut down businesses, suspended schools, and cancelled events. The flow of commerce has come to a screeching halt. There is so much uncertainty, it is impossible to predict or plan. Experience does not give any clues about the future because there is no connection. The future looks nothing like the past so experience is of little use to us.

How to pivot to thrive when shift happens

Accept the current reality with brutal honesty

Imagine the worst case to best case scenario for your business, your customer, and your suppliers

Identify your customer needs

Identify your capabilities relationships and assets

Identify places in your business that you can leverage, develop, or acquire to pivot to meet the needs of your customers

Find opportunities to lend support with no expectation of anything in return

Know with certainty there is no going back to “normal”

An example of reimagining the future

Consider the architectural firm specializing in healthcare, hospitality, and retail. Design work in retail and restaurants has diminished significantly. However, the firm has become an expert in designing space to meet health standards for COVID-19. With a pivot, they have a new specialty that sets them apart from their competitors and meets the needs of customers. They are positioned to thrive.


When shift happens, it creates new opportunities as well as closing others. You are in the best position to thrive when your team and you have built a culture of trust and resilience. Keep in mind that you are also able to help others who are struggling. Help where you can with no expectation of anything in return. Now’s not the time to be keeping score.

It pays to be “ambidextrous.” Organizations must take care of business today with capabilities while exploring new ones for the future. What new strategy can you adopt today that will serve you well regardless of the future?

© 2020 Ann Elliott

3 comments on “How to Thrive when Shift Happens”

  1. Very good thinking, Ann!
    Now, I just have to scew my head on in a way that enables me to spin it around in all directions in search of that new perspective.
    Graham Rouse
    PS: Mary and I send best wishes for you and yours.

  2. I read your article yesterday morning. I learned a very successful example of your recommended "pivot" in a ten year old movie I watched later the same day.
    It seems that sales of a compound for cleaning coal dust off wallpaper were dying. Cleaner fuels were replacing coal, and paper "wallpaper" was being replaced by washable materials.
    A friend of the compound inventor discovered that children liked the soft cleaning compound better than the stiff modeling clay they normally used for play and crafts.
    They made the pivot to a new market and a new name. "Play Doh" spread worldwide and is recognized today as one of the top 100 children's toys of the 20th century.
    This backstory of Play Doh is shared in the movie as "proof that we're all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work."
    You will find more details on Play Doh and its role in the movie in Wikipedia.
    I watched the movie,
    "How Do You Know" on Netflix.

    Graham Rouse

  3. Hi Graham, I appreciate your commenting on my post. Thanks for sharing the story of a pivot to Play Doh. With an imagination as vivid as yours is, you can capture this time to your advantage. It's frequently about paying close attention and a willingness to do something different.


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