Changing Gears

The ability for a start-up or a large company to shift strategies is critical. This ability is often referred to as pivoting, personally I like the term changing gears. If you glance at the initial business plan for many companies and look at what they are doing today, they are completely different. As I say, everything looks great in PowerPoint but executing on those plans in real-time has a life of its own.

Research in Motion, the makers of the BlackBerry, was founded in 1984 and they launched the first BlackBerry in 1999…yes, 15 years after they started the company. Do you think their initial plan talked about a wireless communications device? Probably not, however they were able to change gears quickly from their two-way pager which was their bread and butter product and jump into the fast growing email market.

Microsoft a household name never set out to dominate and capture 90% of the operating system market. Initially, it was started to provide programming tools to developers. However, when a deal with IBM almost fell through Bill Gates bought an existing operating system company and closed the deal with IBM. Over time Bill realized the real money was in the operating system business and focused more attention on the newly acquired company.

It’s very easy to talk about changing gears but is very difficult in a start-up because you tend to be married to the idea that you started with and to change direction can be unnerving.  Great businesses and people have the ability to foresee the future and change today to take advantage of it.

The above article originally appeared on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s