Marginal Gains - Learning from Team GB

by Karl Bradley

In 2003, the fate of British Cycling changed with the recruitment of new Performance Director Dave Brailsford. The preceding 95 years had delivered just one gold medal and in 110 years no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France.

Along with Dave Brailsford came a marginal gains strategy; the outlook of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. He said, “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

These small adjustments typically included redesigning seats, testing various fabrics and asking riders to wear electrically heated overshoots to maintain ideal muscle temperature. They didn’t stop there, Dave Brailsford and his team looked to find even smaller and unexpected areas to improve such as hiring a surgeon to teach each rider how to properly wash their hands reducing the chance of catching illnesses.

Five years after appointing Dave Brailsford, the results spoke for themselves. The British Cycling team dominated the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing winning 60% of gold medals available. Four years later, they went on to set a combination of 16 Olympic/World records. In the same year, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France.

This is a fascinating story of the British Cycling team and it’s a method that anybody in any situation can put into place in order to improve, including RMG.

In 2017, RMG went through a management buyout. With our new managing director came a more pointed focus on marginal gains. By breaking down various elements of our service and improving them by small percentages, we have seen an overall improvement in our business and enjoyed our best year in almost a decade in 2017 and our best year ever in 2018. This strategy is something we will continue to implement as we look to accelerate our growth moving forward.


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