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The 'Marginal Gains' philosophy can help transform your tech

Written by Jamie Hinton
Published on
We all understand the benefits of improvement, but it’s easy to get overambitious, and take on too much at once. In order for improvement to be effective and sustainable, it needs to be done gradually...

We all understand the benefits of improvement, but it’s easy to get overambitious and take on too much at once.

In order for improvement to be effective and sustainable, it needs to be done gradually, rather than trying to tackle one overwhelmingly large project of cataclysmic change all in one go. An analogy we use is a melon- you wouldn’t try to eat one whole, you’d slice it up and eat it in manageable bits. So, why take an all at once approach with your business, or more importantly, its technology?

The real-life examples from the world of business are there for all to see, from sport through to mobile devices. By approaching improvement in a more gradual or staggered way, it can feel much more manageable and measured, rather than a manic push to complete it. It can also have a fantastically positive influence on your business, by thinking in these terms, you can achieve great things without wholesale change.

Making gradual improvements can help businesses to stay up-to-date and create a better product or experience. By working in this way, businesses can stay up to date with the latest technological developments, or consumer demands and weave this into their culture. Tech and consumer attitudes and behaviour are evolving all the time, so by neglecting continuous improvement, businesses risk falling behind.

By making changes or advances gradually, businesses may actually have the capacity to make more of an improvement or gain than if they were to undertake it as part of a larger, one-off project. Think of it in these terms, if we were to make a 1% improvement each day, which doesn’t seem like very much in isolation, for a year, that equates to 365 days of continual improvement, which is quite significant, and may not be achievable if attempted all in one go. What’s more, that 1% improvement doesn’t just end that day, it extrapolates across the year, building up a compound change.

At Razor, we recognise that change might not always be easy for businesses, but it needn’t be the headache that some fear.

Most platforms, processes, tech and hardware work well in isolation, but all too-few are optimised to work in perfect synergy. Our role is to join the dots and let your investments work harder for you. A 5% increase in basket conversion for a retailer, combined with a 3% improvement in supply-chain efficiency can be truly transformational. The truth is, it’s often about attitudinal change.

Through looking at what you’re already doing now, you can build upon the foundations already in place and pursue evolutionary change, paving the way for innovation. Take the iPhone for example, to this day it’s considered to be one of the biggest game-changers in tech, and they’re still incredibly popular.

But, it wasn’t the first to market touchscreen smartphone, it was developed by taking existing products, such as the O2 XDA and making a range of slight improvements to create a much better product. By improving the touch interface, making the camera that little bit better, updating software frequently and making other gradual changes, the result has been revolutionary. It really is a culmination of otherwise marginal gains, adding up to a big impact.

Google is another prime example of a business using continual improvement to provide the very best for their users. Each year, Google makes hundreds of small updates to its search algorithm, (as well as some more major changes- much to the dismay of the SEO world), helping their users to continue accessing relevant and high-quality content and pages.

Let’s be clear, continuous progression isn’t about just doing the wrong things slightly better, it’s important to still evaluate the strategy you have in place, and make sure it’s working.

If we consider the reverse of marginal gains, and your business performance drops by 1% a week rather than improving, although, on its own, this wouldn’t be the end of the world, it could soon add up to a monumental loss. If your business stands still, the world around you will continue to evolve, so it really becomes business-critical to stay ahead of the rate of change.

Businesses need to learn to embrace change as an opportunity for improvement, not something to be feared. Whether it’s taking what someone else does and doing it better, or just improving your own performance, making small, incremental improvements can be the key to success. The truth is, that with the pace of change in the world, be that technology, consumer attitudes, trends, politics or policy, you really can’t afford to stand still and do nothing.