Purpose – To explain how an organization has been able to use seismic changes in its wider external environment to transform its performance without the need for radical internal restructuring or coercive forms of leadership. Design/methodology/approach – This paper utilises a three year case study from elite sport, an under-represented sector in the management literature but one that offers a fascinating view of change. Findings – Whilst the change management literature typically emphasises dramatic and rapid coercive restructuring accompanying open-ended environment change, this study found that known routines and historical ways of working existed alongside innovation, risk-taking and learning; the paradoxical foundation upon which performance flourished. Research limitations/implications – Although the dangers of single cases are noted, difficulties regarding access and comparability with other similar organizations prevented a similar degree of focus on multiple cases. Future research either within elite sports teams or other organizations facing similar environmental change is needed to extend and enhance the asset maximization model presented here. Practical implications – This analysis and the development of an asset maximisation approach questions the traditional processual or design-based approaches towards managing change and argues for the capture and incorporation of business and strategic decision making within such accounts. Originality/value – The paper is a rare account of change within elite sports. The asset maximisation approach developed within this case study illustrates how holistic value creation in turbulent times is achieved. As such, its conclusions will have much to offer organizations as well as academics interested in the management of change.