A Wrong Way to Pivot: The Rebound

Posted by Boris Grinkot on

Entrepreneurs are suckers for great ideas. We fall in love with them. We are blinded by that love. And no matter how much our customers tell us that it’s not going to work out, we choose to persevere. What happens when entrepreneurs are forced to validate their assumptions? Following the scientific method, the validation criteria must be set before any data is collected. This way, if the data is collected and demonstrates that the experiment has failed, there is no more room for denial. What’s next?

The breakup

It’s painful, yet it’s the right thing to do. This emotional rollercoaster is one of the essential ingredients of a successful Lean Startup Machine experience. You can’t learn it from a book. You have to live though it. The idea is that once you let go of an idea, you are free to pivot to a better one. A key tenet of Lean Startup is that by doing customer development early, we can identify the most promising ideas and discard the questionable ones fast. It’s speed dating. Yes, there is a small chance that you will miss out by not exploring a possibility further. But on the whole, you will save yourself some time and energy.

The rebound

As we wrapped up our first corporate on-site workshop with The Library Corporation, a new metaphor emerged. One innovation team was passionate about a new way to help travelers keep a log of their journeys. Unfortunately, their customers were not nearly as excited by it. The team described how they felt dejected after being crushed by customer invalidation. Driven emotionally by rejection, they pivoted instantly to a different model. The momentum of the workshop carried them forward for a short while in this new direction, until they collectively realized that none of them had any real interest in it. Unfortunately, many of us don’t catch ourselves as quickly. This pattern has certainly occurred many times in our regular workshops, but as this team presented their findings and eloquently described “not being in love” with their new idea, the word “rebound” instantly came to mind. Now we have a name for it: the rebound pivot.

Other fish

If the entrepreneur only had one idea, this methodology would have driven innovation to a screeching halt. But we know that there are plenty of ideas in the… um... “sea.” By pivoting or altogether shifting to a different model, entrepreneurs mitigate risk and increase net returns. This is not to say that it’s always a bad idea to persevere. If you need to learn more, it makes sense to stick with the current strategy until it has been invalidated. With no significant revenues to date, Pinterest may be an example of perseverance.

Staying true to your vision

When we follow a methodology for product development, it’s important not to lose sight of our own vision. If we are satisfied with getting paid to do something you don’t like, it’s easy for most of us to get a nine-to-five job. If you want to love what you do, pivot quickly to discover the business model that will support the vision you love. Photo credit.