The term "all in" is used in Texas Hold 'Em Poker to indicate that a player is betting all of his/her chips in support of their hand. It is a show of full commitment. In the Innovation game, all in means the same thing to one of my clients. It signifies that the party is prepared to do whatever it takes in terms of the resources they control in order to make the proposition at-hand successful. This signal helps my client prioritize customers and his own related resource allocation and investments.
"All In" can bring enormous clarity to business relationships. To extend the poker analogy, all too often in business exchanges players don't place meaningfully sized bets of the resources they control to support their hand. If their hand isn't very strong, it is sensible to be cautious. If their hand is a good one and they are still inactive, then they don't belong at the table.
My client typically brings substantial business propositions to the table. These represent a formidable ante. As a result, he has little patience for players who aren't prepared to invest or take risks with excellent cards on the table. After a few rounds to ascertain the player's intentions, if he feels the other player isn't demonstrably committed he will walk away from the game.
He takes a critical and clear-eyed view of the situation. Is the other player making meaningful investments to demonstrate support, or does he expect my client to invest unilaterally? Unless the other player shows that he is committed to a venture by allocating real resources within his span of control, such as actively promoting the initiative up and across organizational lines, introducing him to his supplier partners and the like, he isn't "all in". If he isn't all in, he represents a lower priority, at best.
Importantly, my client understands that large corporations have decision making processes that can restrict players' abilities to move with the type of speed he would ideally like. Still, the signals that they send and the commitments they make (or don't make) relative to the resources they control can be very revealing. My client doesn't want to be the only party extending himself. When that happens, the game isn't fair and he doesn't want to play. Would you want to?