NZHIT View/Blog The power of the pivot

Scott Arrol

July 23, 2020

During the lockdown it was amazing to read and see so many organisations, companies and individuals ‘pivoting’ in order to adjust to the situation that confronted all of us.  In some cases, this was an absolute must in order to survive through the lockdown and be in some sort of shape coming out the other side.

In other cases, the lockdown forced once considered untouchable rules and regulations to finally be reviewed and changed so that essential services could continue to be provided.  Even if some of those changes are temporary, they demonstrated that old saying of “where there’s a will there’s a way”.  

In many cases, the lockdown provided an opportunity for many of us to review our usual way of working (business as usual), look at whether our gold plated strategies are actually as relevant as we thought and consider if there are other ways of engaging, operating and surviving in an uncertain future.

I am not sure if LinkedIn’s algorithms keep track of these things but based on how many times the word ‘pivot’ was used it is my pick that we reached peak pivot at about the three-week stage during lockdown.  This is not to be frivolous about the word or those of us reporting on all the pivoting we were doing.  It is symbolic of the incredible situation and a positive reflection on the resilience and inventiveness of the human state.

What it also demonstrated is that there were, and still are, several areas in the health sector that the passage of time had led us to a stage of believing that it was just too hard to change things.  If you are from the New Zealand health sector you will know some of the examples I am referring to, e-prescribing and telehealth come to mind.  

In many regards the perfect storm created by Covid-19 could be used as the sole reason why such rapid changes occurred in these areas.  Of course, that was the catalyst, but we cannot underestimate the enormous amount of work put in by so many dedicated people within such a short period of time.  I’m not putting myself in that category, but I was privileged to be close enough to witness just how hard these people worked to break down previously impenetrable barriers so that the providers of healthcare services were supported as much as possible during their own period of pivoting.

One day a cohort of very intelligent MBA students will do case studies on this period. I am sure there’ll be a number who write their thesis on the ‘power of the pivot’.  A whole new strategic area of study has been borne.  

An interesting component of this will be to look at why it took such a traumatic event to force changes that, in many cases, were very sensible things to have done during normal times.  How often do we see this occurring when in normal times the status quo is hard to change?  Then survival mode tips everything on its head.  

Those things that should have previously been done in less dramatic times are suddenly fast-tracked and we give ourselves a pat on the back for being so clever at pivoting.

Of course, it is too early for back patting as we’re already sadly seeing some of those changes being reversed to the point where a 180-degree pivot is looking more like a 360-degree spin.

Talking about patting myself on the back for a pivot well done, it would be remiss of me to not mention the launch of our podcast channel in early June. The birth of Digital Health Insights with Scott Arrol came out of the need to engage, communicate and to profile the good work of so many people from all parts of the sector.

Interviewees so far include deputy director data and digital Shayne Hunter, GP and practice owner Dr Karl Cole and head of digital health at Healthcare Holdings Lloyd McCann.

Its popularity within a short period of time has shown that the podcast has met a need, not only here but there is now a global audience. What may have seemed like a short-term benefit has clearly turned into something that will be around for the foreseeable future.

Of course, the irony is not lost on me.  Should I really be pleased at my clever piece of pivoting or was this something I should have thought of previously and already been doing!

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