You Can’t Just Pivot Before Reopening Your Business, You Need A Whole-System Reboot

The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled the rug out from under the feet of many US business owners.

Some have been faced with the hard decision to close their doors.

Others are scrambling, working remotely (perhaps for the first time), desperately trying to figure out how to pivot under pressure.


“A synchronized, agile behavioral business system is necessary to satisfy twenty-first century customers.”

Cathy Sunshine,

And while these measures (pivots) are acutely necessary for survival, they are also
just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to long-term ability to thrive.


The value they used to provide may no longer be of value at all.

Dynamic vs. Static Business Systems

The word pivot implies a change in direction from one central point, one static point. However, if the value is embedded in that static point, what happens if that value is deemed irrelevant.

“... the real answer to the future lies in building a new container: one that requires a certain type of leader, that enables a certain type of behavior, and that drives an entire enterprise to synchronize with the new world of its customer.”

This type of container generates and sustains a system that is dynamic, not static.

Dynamic business systems - with such containers - are bound by responsive multi-dimensional tensions. 

Responsive in nature, they:

  • Feel like a safe place in which to work and shop
  • Move at the speed of the customer’s need
  • Remain tethered to their values and principals
  • Free the business from constraints that would otherwise delay or block service to a customer

The Post-COVID-19 Marketplace

“Old methods are incapable
of preparing you for what we
are seeing today: the most
volatile and disruptive
climate the world has ever

Tim Brown, IDEO

Nothing lasts forever. COVID-19’s temporary “new normal” too will pass.

When this happens, the impulse for businesses to return to the “old normal" will be tempting.

But be warned, the marketplace may never be the same again. This could sound cryptic, but really it's a neutral statement of truth.

The post-COVID-19 marketplace will exist within a changed and changing world; there is simply no way around that!

Just as what is true today wasn’t true before. What’s true today won’t be true

Customers’ needs and expectations will have shifted. Employees’ needs and
expectations will have changed.

Entirely new types of customers will emerge.

To truly thrive in the post-COVID-19 marketplace, businesses must move at their customer’s speed of need and get it right. It’s easy for customers to go elsewhere, and the customer is in control.

“Competitive advantage
will depend on the
creation of real value in
the marketplace and
adopting an evolved
Behavioral Operating
System that hyperlinks a
business to its outside

When reopening, you will be responding to a changed and changing world, a world with relationships and markets expecting different products and services that deliver new experiences in a very new way.

It’s the opportunity of a lifeGme -- today -- to reboot your company from the

  • How has your customer’s expectaGon changed in the past 3 months? Do they want something new? Or just faster, becer, smoother and more satisfying?
  • What would your company look like if you redesigned it entirely from the customer’s lens?

A Real-Life Example

Not unlike the devastation of the Coronavirus today, in 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, destroying its entire infrastructure.

Relief agencies were slow, confused, and struggled to respond. Chef Jose Andres le^ his fancy restaurants in Beverly Hills to visit Puerto Rico, determined to help.

There were 3.5 million people in need of food, and without electricity and clean water, the island was desperate. The problem wasn’t the food. There was plenty of food. Yet, gridlock emerged. There was no system to mobilize and feed the people.

Chef Jose didn’t just help - he rebuilt the whole system -- he created a whole system reboot, working
from the customer-in.

Chef Andrew kicked into gear and set about building a throughput machine to feed the people on the island. Within days he:

  • found raw materials and food,
  • identified and put together a network of kitchens,
  • established supply chains and delivery services

… and, in doing so, served more than 3 million meals in the first two months of his arrival.

You may never need to transform your business as he did in Puerto Rico, but this serves as an essential vantage point when you reconsider what your company needs to look like to grow out of today’s crisis.

For Chef Jose, the customer was obvious: a population of people without food. In your case, when the customer is different, knowing what they need that they did not need before becomes critical.

Leading an Effective Reboot

To do an effective reboot:

  • Begin now
  • Do what it takes to make things safe
  • Walk in the customer’s shoes and listen well to their needs
  • Welcome employees back with care and compassion
  • Remove all the roadblocks that get in the way of your service to the customer

We have entered a new frontier, and there is no tolerance for empty promises or gridlock. 

So, What Happens Without a Reboot?

Without an intentional reboot:

  • You’ll find yourself playing catch-up.
  • Your staff will be scared.
  • You may jump start quickly but then plateau.
  • You’ll have trouble gaining traction.
  • Your customers may not come back.

Final Thoughts

Now is not the time for business as usual. This great pause presents business leaders with a ripe and priceless opportunity to reflect on business as usual and implement meaningful change.

Re-launching is risky and also presents many opportunities.

Plan for success; remember a licle preparation goes a long way.

To the contrary, making decisions without taking the Gme to re-think and reboot your perspective is a recipe for disaster. Before you reopen your doors - metaphorically or literally - take the time to implement a system-wide reboot.

For many business leaders this process can feel overwhelming or may require additional manpower and
experGse. We can help with the bold management solutions needed to thrive in the post-pandemic
marketplace. Whatever your next step is, email, call, or message us on LinkedIn.

We’re here to help. You can reach us at 303-478-9708. And, feel free to share.

Cathy and Lynn

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