Pivots and Faceplants

We didn’t even have a word for “pivot” until a couple of years ago.

Companies “changed their strategy”, or “re-examined their business”, or “took a fresh look”.

Then all of a sudden “pivot” burst on the scene, and business became more like downhill skiing or dancing than war.  Everyone began to pivot.

Unfortunately, not all pivots are alike.  Valhalla’s Managing Partner Art Marks distinguishes between pivots and “faceplants” as follows:


  1. New Strategy: Redefine mission based on market feedback, evidence of shortcomings.
  2. Capabilities: Exploits existing capabilities
  3. Evidence: Strong evidence of success on new path
  4. Plan: Predicatable requirements for cash required to break even


  1. New Strategy: Redefine mission because old one didn’t work
  2. Capabilities: Imaginary and exaggerated new capaibilites added to enterprise
  3. Evidence: More hope than evidence
  4. Plan: Future cash requirements still uncertain.

Admittedly, many Faceplants disguise themselves at Pivots.  But still worth testing for one vs. the other.  Well worth it.



2 comments on “Pivots and Faceplants

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dan, Is “Faceplant” semi-equivalent to the verbwe used in the 1980s, “auger in?” As in “When the company ran out of fuel (i.e., cash), it went into a tailspin and augered in.”

  2. Dan Gordon says:

    My unfortunate experiences with faceplants have come from downhill skiing, when you catch an outside (downhill) edge and fall outwards and downwards, landing face-first and planting your face in the ground.

    Auguring in seems quite similar from your example, although there is an element of heroism in auguring in that seems absent in the faceplant, which is a pure example of operator error and as embarrassing (if far more painful) than having your nose rubbed in your mistake.

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