James Clear, Writer, Entrepreneur and Behavior Science Expert, recently shared a story on Entrepreneur.com about the aggregation of marginal gains.
In 2010, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, and Team Sky’s new General Manager and Performance Director Dave Brailsford was charged with changing that. He decided to apply what he felt was a powerful concept: the aggregation of marginal gains, or as he described it, “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” He decided to improve every facet that impacted cycling by just one percent, hoping that the combination of those small gains would give Team Sky the advantage.
First they began by changing all the typical things you would expect: nutrition, training, bike seat ergonomics, tire weight, etc. Bu then they searched for other secondary improvements that would impact performance: pillows, massage gel, hygiene. Clear explains, “Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years’ time. He was wrong. They won it in three years.”
The aggregation of marginal gains is also beneficial for small business owners. Jim Rohn said, “Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
In an attempt to apply this principle in his own life, Clear uses what he calls the “never miss twice” rule. “I know that it’s not a big deal if I make a mistake or slip up on a habit every now and then. It’s the compound effect of never getting back on track that causes problems. By setting a schedule to never miss twice, you can prevent simple errors from snowballing out of control.”
What little things could you improve in your practice—by just one percent—that could have a lasting effect on your success? Are there minimal changes you can make to processes, marketing approaches, software, and customer service? Consider the small and simple ways you can effect improvement and begin making minor changes.
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Clear, James. “This Person Improved Every Tiny Thing by 1 Percent and Here’s What Happened.” 12 June 2014 Entrepreneur.com