Pinning down the pivot: Fast Company asks entrepreneurs to define a buzzword

“No one can run four businesses well, why not focus on what you do best?”

That’s what Dr. Julia Rahn had to say about the decision to take her therapy center, Flourish Studios, in a new directon.  I interviewed Rahn last week for an assignment about companies that have pivoted. As I discussed the story with classmates, one thing became apparent: though we could all name big red letter examples–Nokia, Twitter, Groupon, YouTube–no two of us had the exact same description of what it meant to “pivot.”

It turns out entrepreneurs–many of whom have actually engineered a pivot–have the same problem.  Fast Company, as the final part of its ongoing series “The Pivot,” asked nearly two dozen entrepreneurs to describe the term startups can’t stop buzzing about.

It turns out there isn’t a party line.

“We threw out everything that wasn’t working and kept what worked,” said Kevin Systrom, of Instagram’s evolution.

“You have some main direction, but for some reason you’re 10 degrees off course,” said Turntable‘s Billy Chasen, of a pivot company’s relationship to the original concept.

BetterShift’s Chris Lyman was more succinct:  “Pivots suck. They are an admission of failure.”

Watch the full video and get a handle on the term that means different things to different founders.

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