This was the running theme at one of our latest meetings where we had the opportunity to get together, which is crucial to the development of the team and overall success of the business.
With help from an external facilitator we used our afternoon session to focus on how we can drive the organisation forward so that we can continue to deliver exceptional results. Our starting point was that great things come from small changes and that everyone needs to come together in order to reach a common goal. In this context we were looking at our sales and marketing efforts, but believe that the same mentality can be applied to any context, which is why we thought we should share some of our thoughts from the day.
In work, as well as in life, we will generally get what we accept – so if we genuinely want to improve something, we have to stop accepting the way it is now. “Stop accepting” doesn’t mean a flat refusal, which would most likely create friction and unhealthy conflict; it does mean, however, at least raising “I don’t think this is good enough”. You can’t change a culture overnight, but you do have to start somewhere.
Small improvements = sustained success
There were some great successes for Team GB at the Olympics in 2012. But one team that stood out in particular was the cycling team led by Dave Brailsford. He has been widely quoted on the importance of marginal gains.
Put simply….how small improvements in a number of different aspects of what we do can have a huge impact to the overall performance of the team.”
It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.
Almost every habit that you have – good or bad – is the result of many small decisions over time. And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change.
So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.
From what I can tell, this pattern works the same way in reverse. (An aggregation of marginal losses, in other words.) If you find yourself stuck with bad habits or poor results, it’s usually not because something happened overnight. It’s the sum of many small choices – a 1 percent decline here and there – that eventually leads to a problem.
We are all responsible
Very often it is seen as someone else’s problem to sort issues out. But to make improvements we must all play our part. As with so many things, it just needs people who are prepared to make a start, however big or small. It’s also fundamental that we recognise that it’s not just others this applies to – we are often most accepting of mediocrity from ourselves.
We will continue to make marginal gains in order to take small steps towards a greater, more successful and sustainable future.