CTO Compass series
- Welcome to The CTO Compass
- Solving Problems with Precision: The Science of Structured Thinking
- Are you response-able?
- Keep Score and Watch Your Performance Soar
- The Importance of Software Maintenance For Successful Software
- How To Make Good Contracts With Yourself
- Does your business have an operating system?
- 🧹 Messy Code, Messy Kitchen – It’s time to do the washing up
- How to be 37 times better by this time next year
- Good Timber Does Not Grow With Ease
- Create a compelling vision for your organisation
- Why embracing Tsundoku will make you more insightful and a more interesting person
- The Maintenance Burden: What You Don’t See When Adding New Features
- 8 tips for improving your decision-making
- How to fix your time and attention leaks
- Faking It Until You Make It: Why You Don’t Have to Automate Everything (Yet)
- How to turn Positive Thinking into Positive Action
- How to take advantage of alignable differences to make change more acceptable
- Your chair may be trying to kill you – and what to do about it
- How to craft your day for maximum focus
- 1000 seconds to boost your focus, energy and well-being
Have you heard the back story of how, after 110 years, the British Cycling team finally won, and then kept winning, the coveted Tour de France?
In 2003, Dave Brailsford took over as Performance Director. He initiated a strategy he called “the aggregation of marginal gains”—a philosophy of looking for tiny margins of improvement in everything you do.
The team broke every aspect down from the more obvious, redesigning the bike seats for more comfort, to teaching the cyclists how to wash their hands properly to reduce the chances of catching colds.
The maths of marginal gains
When you look at the maths, the power of compounding marginal gains becomes clear. If you start at one on day 1, on day 10, it’s 1.09. After a month, it’s 1.35. It’s not until day 71 that you even hit 2.01. At about six months in, we’re at 6.12. It’s not until day 233 that we can say we’re ten times better than when we started.
At this point, there are 132 days left until a year is up, and you can start to see how consistent improvement really starts to gather pace. We’re 20 times better by day 303. By day 365, we are 37.41 times better!
Around five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team started their run of domination. From 2007 to 2017, the team won an astonishing 178 world championships, 66 Olympic and Paralympic gold medals and 5 Tour de France victories!
A 1% improvement every day for five years in mathematical terms, on day 1825, the result is 76 million times better (76,240,507.67 to be exact).
While it can feel like an inexorably slow process, consistent effort is the key to realising those marginal gains.
To illustrate the difference, again, let’s do a little maths.
Let’s say that for the first two days, you improve by 1%; on day 3, you’re static (there’s no improvement or decline). On days 4 and 5, you once again improve by 1%. On day 6, you decline by 1%. For simplicity, we’ll repeat that pattern. We’re improving two-thirds of the time.
At day 10, we’re only at 1.05%; at a month, 1.16%. Six months in, and we’ve only improved by 2.47%. After a year of this inconsistent performance, we are better, but only by 6.14%
Becoming 1% better every day
At Foxsoft, it is so important that we incorporated it as one of our core values to “Become 1% better every day”.
As Ryan Holiday said:
This is the way to improvement: Incremental, consistent, humble, persistent work. Your business, your book, your career, your body—it doesn’t matter—you build them with little things, day after day.
Push yourself a little daily, learn something and try to put it into practice.
A simple first step to consider: If there is an area of practice you already engage in, after each session, take a few moments to reflect and write down how you might make it 1% better next time.
⚡️ Thinking Time ⚡️
What area of your life or business could benefit from consistent daily improvement? And how will you make it happen?