A reflection on marginal gains – prompted by the perfect cycling drink bottle
Marginal gains in business systems
By Dr Pete Whittle, CEO
31 January 2020
As a keen cyclist, I spent the past week at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia. While I watched the peleton race up a hill, a coach from Team Ineos gave me a drink bottle that his riders did not need. Feeling pleased with my ‘free stuff’, I took a swig from the bottle, and had a ‘penny drop’ moment. This was a PERFECT drink bottle. It felt good in my hand, it squeezed without any effort, the nozzle streamed liquid straight into my mouth, and the liquid went down easily. This bottle would work perfectly for a rider at maximum output and not able to take any additional stress. Furthermore, it could be easily filled and cleaned by team staff, who must also perform at 100%.
The relevance of this is Team Ineos was Team Sky – and Team Sky transformed British cycling from a 100-year joke, to the nation to be reckoned with, at the Olympics, the Tour de France and every other major race. Their secret weapon, we are told, was ‘Marginal Gains’ introduced by their team manager Dave Brailsford. Is my bottle part of Marginal Gains? This article by James Clear explained it to me. Team Sky examined everything affecting the team and looked for small improvements they could make – which put altogether made Team Sky unbeatable.
My Team Ineos drink bottle is now the centrepiece of my memorabilia shelf in my office. It will remind me of how a small improvement can deliver business success and must not be overlooked. AgKonect works like this with our software systems. We take an existing management system, put it into modern platforms, and give it back so the client can continue their work uninterrupted, but with new opportunities to make marginal gains from better technology – or very large ones if they choose to be adventurous.