“Oh no, he starts talking about running again!”

“Oh no, he starts talking about running again!”

Well, it’s not really about running as such, but to highlight some similarities with business. If you have ever followed, or even participated in a marathon running event, you have seen that the front rows at the start line consist of two types of runners: me, and the rest.

No, joke aside, it’s a mix of the fastest elites and professionals, complemented with the even faster pacers. Pacers are there to control the early stages of a race, but in most cases, and as their name says, “pace” the fast guys, not me. Pacers are fast, very fast, and they are not here to finish the race, they will drop out, one by one. They don’t get a medal, nor a finisher shirt. The Pacers are usually a few years younger and have less experience. But over time, they will become leaders and winners. Or some get frustrated or don’t find a sponsor to continue running.

Now let’s compare this with business – and I use the IT business. Not that I don’t understand a lot about it, but I have been working in it for 39 years now. With new technologies, you want to make sure that you can win. It’s not your intention to be the fastest at the start and lead the race for others, only to drop out at an early stage. Maybe you do it, when you are young to gain experience. But once you reached a certain maturity, you want to see your investments to take you to the finish line, and maybe onto the podium – or at least help you to get a medal and a finisher shirt.

Early adaptors are doing a risky job. They do get the spotlight on the start line and it helps them to get some publicity. But once energy runs out or your strategy was wrong, you will end up with a DNF stamp – did not finish. No one will take notice of you – you did all the hard work for some time, but everyone will only talk about those that made it to the finish line.

As a business, you have to think about your strategy – sometimes there’s too much noise and hype about a technology, before we understand what it is actually useful for. Good examples: blockchain, NFT, AI, etc.

Before you sprint away like crazy, think about your strategy, think about the endurance you need and plan ahead. Don’t outpace yourself. You don’t want to drop out early and you don’t have to be first. Focus on the medal and the finisher shirt. If you make it onto the podium, it will be a bonus reward, but in most cases, it is not anything you can plan when standing at the start line.

 

Roland Heller

Managing Director