Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pivoting to a new cliche

Pivot. Is this your business model?
They keep inventing cliches, and I'm glad they do, because it gives me things to write about.

The latest one I'm just catching up to is pivot, used by startup companies. Journalists have had a good time misusing this term in talking about President Obama's shifts here and there, such as "pivoting back to the economy."

If it's good enough for journalists, it's good enough for entrepreneurs.
“I personally hate the word ‘pivot,’” said BrandYourself’s Patrick Ambron. “While obviously being able to ‘pivot’ or adjust your business model/product is essential to surviving — Instagram was a pivot, and even our own product underwent some heavy evolution — I think it is completely misused and abused as both a word and a concept.” 
Ambron said that he sees many startups use it as an excuse not to pursue a business model or product in-depth enough. “Even if you have the right general idea, finding the product to market fit is going to be HARD and take a few tries. It’s going to take some perseverance.” 
At the moment, Ambron sees a lot of startups that “hit their first hiccup — nobody signed up at launch, they didn’t execute a feature properly — and immediately say, ‘time to pivot.’” 
SlimWare Utilities’ Chris Cope looks at it another way. “This word can sometimes be synonymous with ‘desperate’ or ‘not working,’” he said. “While it’s quite common to try new ideas or test new monetization models, the word ‘pivot’ evokes emotions of desperation.”
Thus pivot is a euphemism that has the opposite effect. It's the bizspeak notion of dressing up something mundane in fancy language, hoping it will become something else. It's business alchemy.

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