The Initial Pivot

From the The 'Pivot' Theory to Practice Blog
There is thought leadership—and then there is practice. Sometimes the chasm between theory and application can seem hard to cross. This blog will address that "gap" between what A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and other theory-based literature postulates—and the framework needed to make it work for project teams in organizations today.

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I play chess with my kids.  They are 8 and 9 years old, and then they play with each other.  I like to think that they take the concepts that I teach and then practice them on their own.  One of the concepts I review with them is the "pivot". 

This is a two-fold concept. 

First:  There needs to be an understanding of what your opponent is trying to do in theory.  Then you need to transfer that thought in the practice of what you're going to do about it.

Second:  There has to be a shift from a defensive action when your opponent attacks you to deflecting that defensely and "counter-moving" to put your opponent in duress. 

This is challenging for the grade school minds that are my pupils. 

What does chess with kids have to do with Project Management?  In our work lives few of us concentrate on a pivot as a way to put others in duress so let's concentrate on the first point above.  Throughout my career there has been a concept that has been at least as equally challenging for me.  The concept of a pivot from what "the book" (PMBOK 6th edition) and the practice of what will work in organizations is one of the concepts that I have found to be vital for success as a project manager.  The PMBOK is a set of guidelines that are a framework which will apply to most projects most of the time.  However, the application of that framework involves the following:

1.  A sound change management strategy

2.  Mastery of team dynamics--people make process work

3.  An appeal to organizational constructs, limitations & organizational values

....and more...

This series will be dedicated to how we can translate what we KNOW into helping others DO to accomplish project objectives, obtain success criteria and be fully engaged emotionally, intellectual and with a servant's heart with our project teams.  Please let me know what you think and what topics may be of interest to you.  I never thought I'd be doing this, but I guess I'm making a pivot myself.


Project Management Institute (2018). Guide to the project management body of
knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (6th ed.). Retrieved from


Posted on: January 04, 2019 02:54 PM | Permalink

Comments (13)

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Good Post John. Your kids will develop lots of strategic skills by playing chess at this age ....

Nice, John. Looking forward to additional posts on the topic. Definitely not just about what we know, but what we do with it.

Thanks Rami. I certainly hope so :)

Have a great weekend!



Thanks for your support. I'm aiming to be of service to the community.


We can learn a lot from chess. Great to see you teaching your kids about strategy,

Chess is a great game it teaches you how to attack, defend with counter attacks and above all, it teaches you to remain calm under intense pressure from the opponent. It is similar to what we face daily in our projects. Indeed chess is a great to teach our little ones, I concur with you John.

Good article. Thanks for sharing it.

Kids are a great inspiration, yes chess can be an excellent tool in teaching. My kid's primary school use it to help in learning.

Great post John, my teenage son still plays daily, and can now easily beat the whole family, I concur with my peers, a great teaching tool.

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