Exhibit Change

design-driven community engagement

The Value of a Pivot

The Value of a Pivot

Often, we set out with a plan in mind and it seems crystal clear exactly how we are going to make that idea happen. In our minds, we have probably been playing with this idea in different forms and sometimes just saying it out loud can take it in an entirely different direction.

13127049044_d9bdb3a598_cWe work in complex problems and sometimes find ourselves as the ones who have to say, “hold on… what are we actually trying to achieve here?”

This is an extremely difficult conversation to have especially when it feels like forward is the only way to go. We have all been on a project where the bias to take action is imperative, time is of the essence, everything around you seems to be saying yes, yes, yes and yet this is the moment when reflection and feedback serve the greatest purpose.

The value of a pivot:

  • Take a pause;
  • Reflect on how you got here;
  • Question the process;
  • Develop a strategy to the strategy; and
  • Fundamentally challenge your assumptions.

Find your repurpose.

It feels simpler to listen to everyone that is agreeing and seek kind feedback to justify what you are doing. The complexity is looking for respectful and challenging feedback for an opportunity to react and pivot.

Momentum can be dangerous, as it pushes you in the only direction it can. 

Let’s not kid ourselves, we are huge fans of bringing outrageous ideas to fruition, that is how we ended up doing a Nuit Blanche exhibit in a truck and a ball pit in a park. We love to play with making ideas happen and undeniably we learn greatly from these ideas.

So, sometimes it is awkward to be seen as the one driving towards action and simultaneously having to put the breaks on.

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It may feel like taking a pivot is going sideways or even worse backwards, but we strongly value the role and position of being able to embrace this moment and push beyond it. It is an opportunity to fail up (push to, through and beyond failure) to be able to see what you are learning and what you need next.

It takes great strength to be able to acknowledge what didn’t work. 

We appreciate that is difficult to both give and receive feedback, especially with every intention of being empathic and vulnerable. (I know that I am trying to work on this.) It is common to be defensive, this is a skill we have honed for years.

This is the messiness of the process. It is never as linear as it is on paper or as clear as it is in our minds. We understand that a pivot may feel disruptive or even abrupt. We admire organizations that can take the time to reflect on the greater good for the users as opposed what the designers want. It can be difficult to separate personal aspirations from project aspirations.