Full Speed or Nothing, or Go All In? You can do one, but should you do both?

05.02.24 08:30 AM By Matt Koopmans

Managing a business, large or small, means you will be managing transitions due to change. Internal change, such as pro-active market expansion, diversification, or internal organisational re-alignment (excuse my corporate speak here). Or external change in market conditions, legislation (when is that ever not negatively impacting the market?) or geopolitical conditions affecting the supply or demand chains. 

The smart money is with the proactive type of change, those who make the waves, instead of just riding them. But how should one go about such change? In the author's 30+ years of experience with change (it is now impossible to change without affecting your IT - the central nervous systems), I have categorised the main responses to change, and will provide you with a very simple concept at the end. 

Ignorance is bliss

Basically, this means the signs of changing conditions are ignored. "It is a fad... it will pass" is the attitude taken. This may be correct, it may not be. What is true in any case, is that at the very least a risk assessment must be performed. What are the potential negative effects if it is not a passing fad, versus jumping in and potentially face opportunity cost due to lack of focus of actual market conditions. 


No, not a cry for help - although one may argue it should be - SOS refers to Shiny Object Syndrome. This is very pronounced in the IT industry - the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator to indiscriminately "invest" funds and resources in the next "biggest thing since the invention f the Internet". In some cases, this may be true (for better or for worse, Social Media has had significant implications in business marketing and branding). The challenge is to pick the right Shiny Object to pay attention to - as the potential for new Shiny Objects seems to have no limit. 

Panic as a management tool

When trends are heading into the wrong direction, when dashboards are increasingly painted with a red brush, in many organisations panic sets in, in worst case scenario from top to bottom (trickle-down hysteria). Monthly meetings become weekly, or daily - only to increase the conveyance of bad news. The one thing that does not change is anything that may affect the results - they are just talked about. measure

A measured proactive approach

By identifying trends early (which means you have to measure meaningful things often), the smart leadership team in the organisation starts addressing change before there is an issue - even when the numbers are good now, are you planning and trying new things to measure effect? I would be very surprised if anyone reading this article does not identify this approach as the desirable out of the four mentioned so far. Yet, really, do we apply this consistently? And should we? If we do not apply this consistently as an organisational improvement process, should we at the very least identify triggers to initiate such process?

Measure all is measure nothing

First things first - what matters to your business? Measure that - nothing else. Sounds simple - but you'd be surprised on the influence of the Fear Of Missing Out has on data - and therefore information. Every KPI should be assessed - how does this indicate performance? Performance against what? Simple questions to ask, not always that simple to put in practice. Measure what matters is the simple part of the equation. What matters to your organisation? To simplify the question use the following trick: in what way does this affect our clients, either directly or indirectly? The second question is: if it addresses our clients indirectly, what are buffers we have in place within our current organisation and supply chain that can mitigate such effect, and at what cost? This makes it very clear that measuring everything will limit the ability to analyse the effect on the clients - and without that knowledge, no effective action can be planned. 

So we have a strategy - we go all in at full speed?

See a trend that matters? - check

Have organisational mitigation in place to buy time? - check

Have a strategy to transform the new situation into an opportunity? - check

Question remains - how to implement? Go All In, or Full Speed Or Nothing? Can we do both?

Go All In

Go All In sounds like a pathway guaranteed to success. All or nothing, the heroes journey. But is it? The Go All In strategy is not a strategy, it is a tactic, the only one left after procrastinating decision and action long enough that all other options are off the table. Go All In becomes inevitable, and when it does, you must indeed execute All or Nothing - because that is exactly what it is. But that is full speed, right? Yes... but when you have no other options but to run 42 km, and you were not prepared, have no backup, and you are not a long-distance runner; what are the odds for All, compared to the odds of Nothing?

Full Speed Or Nothing

This is not a description of a situation, a state of being, it is a description of organisational flow. Constantly questioning what is next, putting out feelers, and small "proofs of concept". The Full Speed Or Nothing approach is not compatible with Go All In, as it is constant, and multi-faceted.

Challenge everything, try many things, stick with some, commit to few, and execute one at the time till completion, repeat.

Matt Koopmans