Company Pivot: Dealing With Change

How do you deal with chaos? How do you lead when everything is falling apart? We all like to imagine the product development process as neat and orderly, but we know that it doesn’t always work out that way. Many things can occur during product building from staff changes to strategy shifts. So how do you navigate a sudden company pivot?

Here’s an example. One day I was on vacation skiing in Utah, and it was a beautiful day. The next thing I know I get a text from the Chairman of the Board at Udemy telling me to give him a call. It was unusual, to say the least. When I call in, he tells me he just fired the CEO. How do you deal with that? Not all changes are that drastic, but we deal with at least some small changes every day.

Four Steps To Dealing With Change 

As a product manager or leader, your job is to lead your team through any sudden company pivot. These changes could be in the team, cross-functional partners, engineering, design and more. After any significant change, it takes a while for productivity and outcomes to get back on track. People will look to you to move things forward again as quickly as possible.

There are four steps when dealing with change:

  1. Own it
  2. Communicate it
  3. Teach it
  4. Live it

Own It

Every day you spend time in certain circles of influence. These are the:

  • Circle of control
  • Circle of influence
  • Circle of concern 

During times of change, many people remain in the circles of influence and concern. We can picture a group of people gossiping about why the CEO got let go or why a company pivot is happening. But you can’t control any of those things.

What can you control? Your mental state and body language. Timeliness, communication and your presence are also under your control. So ask yourself, during times of change, how can you best manage these things? 

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About the speaker
Archie Abrams Lyft, Product Lead Member

Archie Abrams currently leads growth product for riders and drivers at Lyft. Previously, he was SVP of Product at Udemy where he led a 45+ person team across Product Management, Product Design, User Research and Analytics. Before building the product team, he led the growth team at Udemy. He joined Udemy as employee #10, helped scale Udemy marketplace to over 25 million students and 100,000 courses across 185 countries. Archie is a graduate of Bowdoin College and currently lives in the Bay Area.

About the host
Jessica Chen Riolfi

Jessica Chen Riolfi has spent her career taking companies international, and currently accelerates TransferWise’s mission around the world. At TransferWise, she started off by globalizing TransferWise’s product and now leads the Asia region, managing 13 countries and a significant chunk of the £800 million transferred on a monthly basis by TransferWise customers. Previously, she drove international growth at eBay and Amazon. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Dartmouth College.

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