Big change

versus small changes


Mark Coster

Founder of Pixooma

If you want to make changes or improvements to the way you do business, or indeed operate your business, then incremental change is key. Small and continuous improvements can be more successful for far less effort than radical changes, say where you might want to completely overhaul everything you do.

Aggregation of Marginal Gains

At a recent The Business Community networking event, our speaker David Hawes did a fascinating and thought-provoking presentation on the subject of marginal gains. He referenced James Clear and his article from Atomic Habits, on the day that British cycling changed - thanks to the addition of Sir Dave Brailsford in 2003 as its new Performance Director.

According to Clear, what made Dave different from previous coaches was his relentless commitment to a strategy that he referred to as ‘the aggregation of marginal gains,’ which was the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. Brailsford 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 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

Whilst in theory this has meant I now have fewer chargeable hours per week, I believe that by having a larger block of time dedicated to one particular area, I’ll be faced with fewer distractions and be more productive.

Applying it in business

We all know what happened to the British Cycling team after 2003, it went from one gold medal to hundreds, but as a business owner I was interested to know whether marginal gains could be a way of achieving success, not only in sport, but in business as well. So, keen to try it out, and take things further in my strategy of continuous development, I started to look at ways in which I could improve my weekly schedule.

Firstly I identified the key areas of my business – client work, marketing, strategy/ business development, admin/finance and technology. I then allocated a day to each area. Whilst in theory this has meant I now have fewer chargeable hours per week, I believe that by having a larger block of time dedicated to one particular area, I’ll be faced with fewer distractions and be more productive.

Different mindset

Obviously, time will tell if this is successful or not. But just by doing this, I have found myself in a different head space. One in which I am able to see if something is broken and/or inefficient in a certain area and to have the wherewithal to fix it. This mindset has also been helpful in switching how I look at larger things, like the new client offerings that Pixooma is currently working on:

  1.  A monthly fee for large companies/corporates who have a constant list of marketing material requirements. Not a retainer based on hours or projects – but an unlimited design service for a fixed fee.
  2.  A monthly fee for organisations that have 4 or more materials that need updating every year (such as reports etc), where the update of these projects is included in the fee, along with flexibility for additional ad-hoc projects (within defined parameters).

These new offerings have been designed to further enhance our trusted creative partnerships and there are obvious benefits for both parties. For ourselves, we get predictable income, whilst for our clients it’s about predictable costs, plus no quoting, approval processes and other admin to get in the way.

When it comes to applying marginal gains in your business, it’s worth remembering that small improvements lead to big results. So what are you waiting for? What can you do today to boost your performance, profitability and growth tomorrow?

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