Sometimes, an initial project idea doesn't work.

Your clients don't like it. Customers refuse to give you money for the product. A competitor enters the space and changes the direction in which the market is heading.

It's time to pivot in your implementation - you need to change direction.

Planning a Pivot

It can be enormously frustrating to realize that weeks, months, or years of hard work will essentially be undone by a change in direction. Your new product might not even resemble the one you've labored over in the past - a fact that scares many away from making the jump to a new direction.

There are, however, three simple steps you can follow to make the process as painless as possible.

1. Salvage

Just because you're refining your objectives doesn't mean you're throwing everything out the window. Take some time to catalog what about your product is successful so far.

UI features already popular with clients can be repurposed and reused.

Data architecture can be used with a new front-end implementation.

Much of your user intelligence research will still apply to a new paradigm.

2. Diagram

There's likely a reason you need to pivot with your product design. Rather than blindly adding on features, repainting a display, or hacking on code take some time to diagram the outcomes you want to see in the future. What are you adding? What are you removing? What are you changing?


3. Competitive Analysis

If you're pivoting because a new player has changed the landscape, then it means you have other resources at your disposal. Take some time to experience the competition's product as a user rather than an engineer. Actually take a few days to play with other products in the market so you have a good understanding of why your own customers are jumping ship.

Do not copy what the competition is doing. No one is perfect, so while their implementation might be fairly solid, it might still leave room for improvement. Take some time to understand the experience and iterate on that.

Pivots don't have to be painful

Changing direction can be refreshing. It can give you an opportunity to eliminate technical debt or further streamline your own product implementation. If your first inclination is to panic, just take a step back and relax. Then follow the steps outlined above.

Pivoting at the right moment can save your business. It might be a bit frightening, but it doesn't spell the end of your story.