What is the impact of 1% change in everything in your business?
Recently I came across the story of Dave Brailsford. Who you might say if you are not familiar with the world of cycling.
In 2010 Dave was confronted with a huge task. No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but it was Brailsford job to change that. He was the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky.
Brailsford had a concept he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains”. He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do”. His approach was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.
But it was a lot more than the just the obvious : the nutrition of riders, training programs, equipment.
They searched for the 1% improvements in the areas others had not thought about :
- the pillow that offered the best sleep
- the most effective type of massage gel
- teaching riders the best ways to wash their hands to avoid infection.
He believed that this focus on the 1% improvements would put them in position to win the Tour de France in 5 years.
They won it in three years.
Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win in 2012. Then again they did it in 2013 with Chris Froome.
In 2012 Brailsford coached the British cycling team at the Olympics who dominated the competition by winning 70 percent of the gold medals available.
Lets consider this approach for your business.
The Aggregation of Margin Gains
Often time we look for the secret pill that will change everything, the switch we can flick that will transform the business. But we overlook the approach of looking at everything and striving to achieve just a 1% improvement.
It seems easier or maybe even more appealing to attempt to do something if there is a large immediate outcome. Improving by just 1% isn’t notable but it can be more meaningful and more sustainable.
The problem with the approach is that in the beginning there is little impact. This is when we sometimes stop trying. But as time goes on, these small improvements make a big difference and your business is streets in front of your competitors.
Another important lesson from Brailsford is that it is 1% improvement in everything. It is not just the obvious. It is also the little things like the correct pillow for the riders that matter. All aspects of your business need to come under scrutiny.
Where are the 1% improvements in your business.