Only six years ago Team Sky entered the cycling world with the bold ambition of winning the most prestigious cycling race of all; the Tour de France. It took the team just 3 years to realise this goal when in 2012 Bradley Wiggins was crowned the first British winner. The success didn’t stop there, just the next year the same result was achieved by Chris Froome. Following this the results have continued to flow and as this article is written Chris Froome looks set to repeat his success as he maintains possession of the yellow jersey in this year’s current Tour de France race.
So how has the team been able to achieve these results? A lot of the success has been attributed to the team’s General Manager Sir Dave Brailsford and particularly to a process he has introduced known as marginal gains. In the words of Brailsfordmarginal gains can be described as ‘the 1% margin for improvement in everything you do.’ His belief was that if you improved everything by 1%, these small gains would add up to a significant improvement.
Like every other cycling team, Team Sky worked on optimising the nutrition of their riders, the ergonomics of the bike seats and the weight of the bikes. But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. Team Sky searched for 1% improvements everywhere and in everything they did and together these improvements come together to make Team Sky the most formidable force in the Tour de France.
- Brailsford realised, after spending 6 exhausting hours in the saddle every day during the race, sleep was of paramount importance to the riders. So to help maximise sleep a team of carers follow the riders from hotel to hotel transporting their own bedding so every rider can always sleep in the comfort of their own sheets!
- Not only this but the carers also thoroughly clean every hotel the riders stop at, even though it has already been cleaned by the hotel’s own staff. Afterall in a race like the Toure de France a rider’s breathing is challenged and just a small amount of dust in the room could affect their quality of sleep.
- The team purchases their preferred tyres a year in advance to save any issue with supply when they are needed.
- All riders were taught how best to wash their hands to avoid infection that would therefore lead to their performance being impeded.
So the question for us to answer; what small changes can we make to our organisations, our way of life, our processes that will lead to bigger achievements later? Change is hard and is disliked by all of us however, by persistently focusing on just 1%, Team Sky shows us how this can lead to great results.
Often we perceive change as only meaningful if there is a large, noticeable outcome associated with it. However to change by just 1% will hardly be noticeable (at least initially) but over time the accumulation of lots of 1%’s can lead to something great.
At Carlton Packaging we bring to market a range of despatch packaging items. We work with our clients to bring products and processes to their organisation that will make them savings. By focusing on 1% at a time; saving on cost, waste and time, together we can achieve a lot.