The identity-based challenges of pivoting

June 30, 2018

Lean startup is highly celebrated for encouraging entrepreneurs to embrace a scientific approach to their new businesses–testing hypotheses, learning, and pivoting their way to success. But what happens when entrepreneurs “over-pivot”–effectively changing the idea so much that the founders no longer remain invested in that idea? In this study I show how entrepreneurs attempt to adjust their ideas while remaining invested in those ideas. The link to the study and the abstract follow:

The Pivot: How Founders Respond to Feedback through Idea and Identity Work

Efforts to incorporate external feedback are central to the process of entrepreneurship and that of creative work more broadly, yet because individuals may view aspects of their creative ideas as linked to their self-concepts, this can trigger resistance toward revision. Thus feedback-induced change while likely intended to increase the viability of creative ideas, might thus paradoxically undermine that viability by compromising creative workers’ associated identity-based relationships with their creative endeavors. While existing scholarship has established the importance of creative revision, research has largely overlooked how this vital process intersects with creative workers’ identities. Through a field study of 59 founders and their entrepreneurial ideas, I present an identity-based process model of creative revision that highlights differences in founders’ psychological ownership of their ideas and how those differences affect subsequent revision efforts. The emerging findings contribute to existing theory by revealing that the capacity to extend the novelty and usefulness of one’s ideas is not merely subject to informational constraints but also to identity-based constraints.

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