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Marginal Gains

27th June 2019

Does sport learn from business or is it business which learns from sport?

British Cycling competed for 76 years to win just one gold medal despite the best effort of athletes and coaches.

2008 British Cycling won 7 golds out of a possible 10 at the Beijing Olympics

2012 British Cycling won 8 golds at the London Olympics and for the first time a British cyclist won the Tour de France

2012 to 2018 British Cyclists win 6 out of 7 Tour De France with 3 different athletes

So how was this possible?

It all started with the appointment of Sir David Brailsford in 2002. A former pro cyclists and MBA, Sir Dave was fascinated with process improvement techniques, in particular Kaizen. He realised that to achieve big you sometimes have to think small.

He set about changing the mindset towards continuous improvement a process of seeking and achieving small incremental improvements over time in all areas from fitness to hygiene, food to bike maintenance they even took their own mattresses and pillows on tour to eliminate poor sleep. Its now known as the science of marginal gains.

As leaders we know doubt follow a similar path in seeking ways of improving processes, conversion rates, waste elimination etc.

I often find many business leaders focussing obsessively at improving external factors but spending little time improving the biggest asset they have, themselves, which leads me to the question…

“What’s your marginal gain?”

As a business leader your performance has a direct and profound correlation to the performance of your business, yet this an area so often overlooked. Your marginal gains can be found in a variety of areas and apply as equally to mindfulness, fitness and mental health as it does to month on month business performance objectives.

For example, if you were able to improve the quality of your sleep by a small percentage would that have an impact on your work performance and your personal life?

A 1% a month on month improvement in your performance in crucial areas will lead to 12% improvement over a year, now that’s significant.

Marginal gains are so powerful US retail phenomenon Zappos wrote to all employees to urging them to improve 1% each day to become 37% better by the end of the year. What if everyone in your business did the same?

Realising marginal gains from your people processes can be just as a significant as gains from business processes. Businesses who encourage AND act on regular review and feedback processes tend to outperform those who have no such process or pay it lip-service.

Same applies with attraction and hiring processes, those who focus on and follow a robust process, with a consistent message always seem to attract the best talent in the market. 

If you are ready to attract the top 1% of talent, to give that competitive edge and add to your bottom line then please get in touch to arrange a 10 minute no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Posted by Mike Gorshkov

Managing Director at Linea Resourcing

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