Start up productivity is not about cranking out more widgets or features. It is about aligning our efforts with a business and product that are working to create value and drive growth. In other words, successful pivots put us on a path toward growing a sustainable business.
Failure is a pre-requisite to learning. The problem with the notion of shipping a product and then seeing what happens is that you are guaranteed to success – at seeing what happens.
When startups start to run low on cash, they can extend the runway in two ways: by cutting costs or by raising additional funds. But when entrepreneurs cut costs indiscriminately, they are as liable to cut costs that are allowing the company to get through its Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop as they are to cut waste. If the cuts result in a slowdown in the feedback loop, all they have accomplished is to help the start up go out of business more slowly.
Tell tale signs of a pivot: The decreasing effectiveness of product experiments and the general feeling that product development should be more productive.
Once you have found success with early adopters, you want to sell to mainstream customers. Mainstream customers have different requirements and are much more demanding.
What previously was considered a single feature in a product becomes the whole product.
Sometimes a single feature is insufficient to support a whole product. What was considered the whole product becomes a single feature of a much larger product.
Customer Segment Pivot
The company realises that the product it is building solves a real problem for real customers but they are not the type of customers it originally planned to serve. So the product hypothesis is partially confirmed, solving the right problem, but for a different customer than originally anticipated.
Customer Need Pivot
As a result of getting to know customers really well, it sometimes becomes clear that the problem is not very important. The customer has a problem worth solving, just not the one that was originally anticipated.
A pivot is better understood as a new strategic hypothesis that will require a new minimal viable product test. A pivot is a special kind of structured change designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, business model, and engine of growth.