Making marginal gains as a Financial Planner
When we think about implementing business change, we often consider a wholesale change.
Rather than making tiny adjustments, the temptation is there to make big, sweeping changes that fundamentally alter the nature of what we do.
Despite this temptation, there’s a strong argument for making small changes that result in marginal gains.
To illustrate what this means, and to draw on the example used in the excellent book Atomic Habits by James Clear, we need to look at the world of British Cycling.
Back in 2003, British Cycling hired Dave Brailsford as its new Performance Director.
Prior to his appointment, British Cycling had been languishing in a century of mediocracy, with just one Olympic gold medal to their names since 1908 and no wins at the Tour de France. That all changed thanks to a newly introduced approach of marginal gains.
Brailsford brought with him a commitment to “the aggregation of marginal gains.” In simple terms, this meant finding tiny improvements to apply to every single thing you do.
By making a one per cent improvement to many different things, the cumulative effect would be significant.
Two of my favourite marginal gains implemented by British Cycling, described by Clear in his book, were getting the riders to wear heated shorts (to keep their leg muscles at optimum temperature) and painting the inside of their transport vans white (to easily spot dust which would compromise the performance of mechanical bike parts).
Here’s the thing about marginal gains; made in isolation, they make little or no difference to performance. But the aggregation of marginal gains makes a dramatic improvement to results.
By making a one per cent marginal gain each day for a year, you reach the end of that year thirty-seven times better off.
It certainly worked for British Cycling. Those hundreds of marginal gains, aggregated, resulted in Team GB winning 60% of the available gold medals in road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Their performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London was even stronger; I was pleased to cheer them on during the road race as it passed through a village close to us here in Cranleigh.
British Cycling would go on to win at the Tour de France on six occasions from 2012 onwards. Remember, that’s after failing to win a single time in over one hundred years.
So, what does this all mean for Financial Planners?
I’m here to argue today that Financial Planners should be ‘sweating the small stuff’ and searching for marginal gains to implement on a daily basis.
Imagine the potential that comes with finding a one per cent marginal gain each day for the next twelve months. What would your business look like in twelve months time if it were thirty-seven times stronger?
These marginal gains can and should be simple things.
During a Facebook Live session last week, I suggested a few, including serving fresh coffee to clients who visit your office, upgrading your business cards to thicker card stock, and adding solicitor corners to your letters.
To give you some inspiration for the marginal gains you could implement within your Financial Planning business over the course of the next year, we’re putting together a free downloadable checklist that will be ready to access shortly.
In the meantime, what marginal gains will you be making within your Financial Planning business this week, month and year?