Fueling Business Agility: The Strategic Pivot


In Fighter Pilot missions, nothing is guaranteed. Any aspect of a squadron’s environment or situation can undergo drastic and unexpected changes at the drop of a hat. If the squadron doesn’t seamlessly adapt, the entire mission can be thrown into jeopardy. To succeed, there’s one skill they must master: the strategic pivot.

This isn’t just the case for Fighter Pilots – businesses today face the same imperative. As global events continue to create uncertainty and precarity for companies of all types, more and more teams are realizing that the plans they made last month might be outdated by next month. In this environment, nothing is more valuable than the ability to stay nimble, so you can identify necessary changes to your business strategy and roll them out promptly.

Here’s why real-time strategic pivots are so important in business today, and how leaders can ensure their teams are ready to quickly update their strategy when necessary.

Get more insights to help your team thrive in a turbulent business landscape

Why would I need to modify my business strategy on the fly?

In just about any area of business, the ability to pivot on strategy has never been more important. To understand why, just take a moment to consider the arc of the U.S. and global economy over the past several years.

In 2020, the bottom dropped out of the economy as the coronavirus pandemic spurred layoffs and business closures across the world. The following year, the opposite problem dominated the headlines: Instead of laying off workers, businesses were struggling to hire as many as they needed, due to a phenomenon dubbed the Great Resignation. A year later, in the wake of the Fed’s efforts to rein in inflation by raising interest rates, companies experienced more layoffs, and murmurs of an approaching recession began to circulate.

Each of these swings forced companies to reevaluate their goals and, as a result, their business strategy. Teams had to engage in a strategic pivot on a dime, revamping their operations to adapt to an environment that had suddenly changed. Those that were able to make such strategic pivots have been able to weather these repeated storms – and to weather the next one, your team will need to possess that same ability.

How can I empower my team or business to make quick strategic pivots?

With the right approach, any team can position themselves to pivot business strategy on short notice. Here are a few process improvements and key considerations to get you started.

1. Start debriefing

Pivoting quickly requires learning lessons in real time. A great way to do that is by implementing debriefing sessions into your process. The debrief comes after the completion of a campaign – a sale, a quarter, a year – and is a chance to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what to improve upon next time.

Military teams use debriefing sessions to successfully execute future missions, and it’s just as pertinent to businesses. A debrief can, for instance, draw your team’s attention to the aspects of your business strategy and protocol that are showing themselves to be no longer viable as the business landscape shifts, so you can pinpoint exactly where you need to pivot.

When things are changing rapidly and time is of the essence, you don’t have time to repeat mistakes. Debriefing makes sure that doesn’t happen. It’s a solid way to gain real, concrete, empirical insights to inform your strategic pivots.

Learn more in our Debriefing overview.

2. Get team-wide strategic buy-in

It’s hard to quickly and seamlessly update a business strategy that your team isn’t bought into in the first place. Leaders need to ensure that the whole team has a strong grasp of what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re trying to accomplish it – and that they’re emotionally invested in your success. Otherwise, the need for a quick, short-notice strategic pivot will only create confusion and fatigue. If you can communicate your strategic vision in a clear and compelling fashion and make sure everyone is aligned around your strategy, it’ll be much easier for your team to handle pivots and modifications to that strategy when the need arises.

Learn more about how to get your team bought into your strategy

3. Learn from those who have done it

Oftentimes, the best way to arm your team with a critical set of skills is through direct training. In Afterburner’s Top Gun Experience (TGX) seminars, real military veterans train business teams in the skills necessary to pull off high-stakes, short-notice strategic pivots and stay on the fast track to their goals. Teams then have the chance to practice those skills in simulated missions. And all of this occurs over the course of one day.

With the business environment changing so rapidly, teams have little time to waste in building the skills they’ll need to quickly modify their business strategy without disruption. A brief yet intensive training session, led by experts with firsthand experience, could be the most effective way to get up to speed as quickly as the moment demands.

Get in touch to discuss how Afterburner can leverage the strategic pivot to get your team ready to take on quick strategic pivots, so you can stay nimble and keep tracking toward your revenue goal – even during turbulent times.