It’s easy to think that change only means something if it results in a big, noticeable outcome – a new factory, a new product or maybe a new service. It puts pressure on us to take headline-grabbing initiatives, when in fact incremental improvements added together often mean success.
It’s this doctrine of marginal gains that Sir Dave Brailsford championed when he became performance director at British Cycling. Brailsford believed that if it was possible to make a one per cent improvement in a lot of areas, the cumulative gains would end up being hugely significant. As well as focussing on the big areas like fitness and conditioning, he looked at smaller, component parts.
He noticed that the mechanic areas in the team’s trailers were really dusty, which hampered the work of the mechanics. So he had the area painted white so people could see the dirt more easily. He asked riders to travel with their own pillows so they got a better night’s sleep. All the riders were trained in effective hand hygiene so they didn’t pick up or spread bugs when they were competing. It all added up and contributed to the team’s huge success.
It works for business too. At Elephants Child we work with you to write strategies and plan for growth over a one, three or even five year period, including any big decisions we think you need to make. But we can also help you identify the component areas of your business that, with a small tweak, add up to make a difference. The Japanese call it Kaizen and Toyota illustrated it in their production system that allowed workers to stop the production line and make small improvements.
UPS uses GPS data from its 60,000 delivery vans to tweak the software on its satnav devices and reduce each daily journey distance by just one mile – a small difference but added up across their fleet this equals a saving of $50m in fuel and other costs each year.
Google’s experiments with the shade of the colour blue used in advertising links resulted in the company earning an extra $200m dollars.
Your business may not operate at this scale, but the principles still apply to you and your business. We can help you find the small gains that could mean a big win. Product packaging, stationery costs, website wording, internal processes for example; the little things that add up.
Please get in touch to talk about how we could identify gains and savings for your company.