‘A journey of a thousand miles began with a single step’
(1904 – sayings of Lao Tzu)
Quite a famous saying; so famous in fact that the principle it tries to convey, can easily be overlooked or simply taken for granted. Big things rarely happen overnight, it is normally a case of building on a series of smaller steps until the bigger end goal is finally reached.
Now that both the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are sadly over, it struck us just how much creativity and business both have in common with sport. In particular, we were fascinated by the transformation of Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic cycling teams over the last few Olympic games.
Much of this transformation has been credited to TeamGB cycling performance director Dave Brailsford who has championed the phrase ‘The aggregation of marginal gains’.
By this he was referring to the concept of taking 1% from everything you do; and then finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything you do.
It sounds very simply, and possibly not that much of an inspirational target or mission to try to achieve? But it is in this simplicity, that the brilliance of Brailsfords mantra lies. Rather than set potentially unrealistic or unachievable big figure performance gains, this approach gives a much wider range of achievable (and thus more motivational) targets.
It also opened the focus up on to every single aspect of what the team were doing, from the obvious to the not so obvious. Nutrition, training, technology, clothing, components, processes, strategy, etc. Each aspect was scrutinised and examined in microscopic detail to see if that 1% gain could be found and built upon.
The resulting tiny percentage gains, although on the surface may seem insignificant in themselves cumulatively they can add up to large gain – potentially a race-winning, or record-winning, gain. If the results of Team GB’s cycling Olympic champions are anything to go by, this very inspiring, yet simple philosophy has already brought a lasting transformation.
This fascinated us, and we could not help but wonder if the same principles could also be applied within the creative and business environments as well? Surely there is always plenty of opportunity to make 1% improvements in all that we do?
Post Olympics, the talk is now all about creating a ‘lasting legacy’ from the games. This can be taken to mean many things to many people, but from a business perspective, the Olympics legacy for us, is to take on board Dave Brailsfords phrase ‘The aggregation of marginal gains’ so that in all that Passion 4 is involved with, we will continually seek to make small improvements in every single aspect of all that we do…