Pivoting: Lessons learned

Hey everyone 😄
Hope everyone is healthy and busy.

My availability is clearing up and I'm back to offering free 30 min product consultations.

I've made some interesting learnings over the past months and I'm excited to share them with you. We've successfully pivoted Ânimo from a purely digital to an online-to-offline model.

Turns out pivoting in one shape or another is inevitable. Successful companies do slow and gentle pivots over time as the market demands change and evolve. Early stage startups are forced to learn how to pivot quickly and ruthlessly as they deepen their understanding of the problem and iterate on solutions.

I hope to share some best practices so you can pivot as gracefully as possible.

Pivoting means choosing what to anchor on and letting the rest change.

Pivots will always be harder than you expect.

Expect (and allow) pivots to be messy and even draining. Pivots force us to deal with sunk costs and reassess our "truths”. Depending on the intensity of the pivot you'll be surrendering expected cashflow, rebuilding and questioning every product decision all while managing team morale.

Make it clear that the pivot is a positive experience, not a failure.

Understand that a pivot is in fact a change in future opportunities. As a product leader take a brief pause, reassess your learnings and change your course accordingly.

Organize a celebratory lunch and remind your teammates how much you've learned together. It only feels gloomy if you allow it to. At Ânimo, we molded the new product as a team and welcomed it eagerly.

The team is your anchor and possibly your shortest runway.

Some very dramatic pivots work because the team was the anchor. You and your team united over a common theme and a love for the problem you're solving. Even with a million dollars in the bank acknowledge that there's a limit to how many pivots your team can go through.

Be careful with repurposing old tech

You've built a lot and there will be attempts to salvage some of the infrastructure. Look at this an opportunity to restart your tech(-debt), would you build everything the same way again? Tech architecture shifts greatly over time and may no longer be the most efficient tool.

Fully commit to your pivot

Feel free to MVP your way into the pivot, but once it's been decided make a firm commitment to stick to your new beliefs. Partial pivots are a sign of strategic indecisiveness or worse: lack of team alignment

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, disagreements and ideas on Twitter/LinkedIn


🌎 Cool links from around the web

Design x PM

The man who produced Steve Jobs’ keynotes for 20 years.
Nostalgic and intimate. Wayne Goodrich was the artist behind every famous Apple product launch keynote. The original link seems to be down, but you can access the cached version here

Every 2021 tech trend presentation

A great collection of the 2021 zeitgeist. Lot's to browse and think about. My personal favorite was Scott Belsky's 8 tech predictions for the near future.

Reducing Product Risk and Removing the MVP Mindset

“We'll test it with an MVP”- everyone.
Casey Winters introduces an excellent framework useful for handling ambiguity and confidence.

How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler

For many in the internet it's “winner takes all”. As giants become further consolidated, the ability to switch off a product from your platform becomes more real than ever. “Cookie-gate” and Apple's permission tracking are the latest examples.

Storming Reddit's Moat

There are only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is to unbundle.

Entire companies have been built by unbundling Craigslist, now it's Reddit's turn.

The data model behind Notion

A little technical but a fascinating read on how one of the most innovative products around works under the hood.

That's it for this edition 😉 What did you think of the new format? What would you like to see more? less? Hit `Reply` with a specific question on product, growth or anything startup related and I'll be happy to offer my honest thoughts. 🚀