Marginal Gains in Steel & Cycling

photoIt’s been a busy week here in Yorkshire, with the spotlight firmly on the county as the Tour de France passed through. As a keen cyclist I rode to Otley with friends to catch the early stages of the race, and then cycled back to Harrogate for the afternoon’s events. I even managed to meet Sir David Brailsford, the Sky Team principle!

In the past, Brailsford has talked at length about the ideas and theories that have helped make the Sky Team so successful – winners of the last two Tours and hot favourites this year (well they were until Wednesday!). One of his main ideas is the ‘marginal gains’ theory. Brailsford best explains how this works:

“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 improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

His idea involves looking at every aspect of the cyclist, their environment, their bike and the team working with them, and improving each by a very small amount. By making a 1% improvement in 10 areas then in theory you have a 10% better chance of achieving your goal…genius really!

Imagine if this theory was applied to manufacturing and engineering; by simply choosing five areas that can be improved upon by just 1% the end result would be significantly improved. Of course it’s not about getting first place in business, improvements would be visible in many different ways – safety records, longevity, aesthetics, reliability, sustainability, the list goes on.

West Yorkshire Steel really like to the use the marginal gains principle in the running of our business. We are constantly looking at areas of the business where we can make any improvements.

Sir David Brailsford has said even the slightest things such as how cyclists wash their hands or ensuring they sleep on the same pillow every night can make an improvement to their competitive cycling; we agree and look to make any improvements we can – however small – to our business and services for our customers.