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Corporate Culture

DO Sweat the Small Stuff

Kendall Ramirez
Kendall Ramirez
Chief Experience Officer, Naturally Slim

At this time of year, many of us are thinking about 2017 budgets and strategic plans. How are we going to use our resources next year to drive improvements in our business? What are the big innovations that will create competitive differentiation and get our customers talking?

Well, what if I told you not to think big? Instead, think small!

We all tend to focus on big, press-worthy, visible innovations while we underestimate the value of small incremental improvements to our business. Small improvements might not be very sexy, but they compound over time and add up to major improvements. In fact, those small improvements often lead to greater competitive differentiation than the one big initiative.

If you’re a cycling fan, you may have heard of Dave Brailsford. He’s the General Manager and Performance Director of Team Sky, Great Britain’s professional cycling team. Brailsford believes in the value of marginal improvements. He focuses on making improvements to the small stuff that many other teams completely overlook.

When he started with Team Sky in 2010, his goal was to make a 1 percent improvement in everything they did. That included a 1 percent improvement in obvious areas, like weight of the riders’ equipment, their nutrition, and their training program. But it also included a 1 percent improvement in seemingly silly areas, like what type of pillow to sleep on. He truly looked for 1 percent improvements everywhere, and his efforts paid off. In just three years, Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky was the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France.

Create a Culture a Small Improvements

Creating this type of “marginal improvement” culture in your organization can have similar benefits. If everyone works to create a 1 percent improvement in all the various areas they’re responsible for, the compounding effect on your business can be substantial.

For example: In an ecommerce business, if your online marketing is 1 percent more effective at targeting the right people, your creativity is 1 percent more impactful at generating click-throughs, your website is 1 percent more effective at converting a visitor into a shopper, your user experience is 1 percent more effective at converting that shopper into a purchaser, and so on and so on, the compounding benefit of those small changes is BIG!

So you may want to think about having your goal be to instill this type of thinking into your culture.

There’s a tendency to either keep doing things the way they’ve always been done or wait around on the big innovation that will completely redesign how everything works. Instead of either, help your team focus on incremental small changes. Not only will the compounding effect have an impact on your bottom line, but by helping everyone feel like their 1 percent improvement makes a difference, you can drive more buy-in from your employees. Whoever said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”?

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