Don’t Pivot to Yesterday

Thriving in an Uncertain Future

Pivot is the word of the day. We are all working to figure out who we need to be in order to thrive in the future. Some of us start with an audit of our capabilities. We hope we can “stick to the knitting” with a new skin on an old offering. Others of us are looking for new markets and customers who will want what we have always knitted.

While those approaches provide our teams with a stake in today’s shaky ground, they are not enough to set a course that leads to a firm future. That is because they are based on understanding the market dynamics of yesterday that have made us successful in the past. Instead, we need a frame of reference to evaluate the range of capabilities that will lead to success in the future.

To determine what capabilities will empower future success, you must know which markets and which customers you want to serve and what they will need as they find solid ground. Start with the market and customers, then work back to your capabilities. To get your hands on their future, talk to your customers. Share their issues with your team. Identify which of the multitude of possible futures are most likely to impact your customers and, therefore, your business.

We find it helpful to organize hypothetical future statements into the four original PEST categories for market assessment:

  • Political or Policy
  • Economical
  • Social
  • Technology

Because each of these categories vary in their relevance and significance to a business, all of them may not be important for you to explore.

Here are just a few hypotheses we at Breakthrough have come up with, and what those hypothesis consider.


Federal policy will incentivize domestic purchasing of critical raw materials and products. Government will provide support to businesses to increase sourcing of domestic raw materials, products, and services.


Buyers will demand U.S-based supply. Investors will invest in U.S-based capacity and capability.


Teaming and collaboration will be redefined to assure operational continuity, efficiency, and acceleration of new product commercialization. Dependency on pets in a household will increase.


Innovations will be demanded for Personal Protection technologies to move beyond existing security protocols to include health protection. Office or home environments will be modified to provide further protection from external sources.

In some cases, they are interrelated or—when considered from different perspectives—can fit into multiple categories. Nevertheless, assemble your team to think through and evaluate hypothetical futures that can have the greatest impact on your business—positive or negative. That will provide a context within which you can determine which capabilities you have or can acquire to support the pivot customers will pay for.

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