Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) – Create Marginal Gains

Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) - Create Marginal Gains

Creating Marginal Gains

Achieving growth in your business comes in many shapes and forms. For businesses looking for an ROI on executive or team coaching, or a measurable improvement in performance, often it’s not one major breakthrough. Rather, it’s a series of small gains that add up to major achievements.

Sir David Brailsford, formerly performance director of British Cycling, current general manager of Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky), helped British Cycling achieve remarkable results.

For over 100 years British Cycling had never won a Tour de France. When Brailsford created Ineos Grenadiers (Team Sky) he predicted they would win it in 5 years. He was wrong. They won it in 2 years. See Brailsford and Team Sky’s achievements in this chart.

Brailsford explains how he achieved this success through Core Principles and Marginal Gains in several YouTube videos.

Follow these principles and your business can achieve similar success. As Brailsford’s Methods show, success isn’t getting one major breakthrough. It’s doing many small things just a bit better, to overcome and beat your competition.

These are the same principles we use through Strategic Discipline and Scaling Up.

ROI Measurements – “What’s In It For Me?”

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and what you don’t measure you don’t understand.” 

Every thing can be measured. If you’re not measuring, you aren’t  understanding. Measuring isn’t the only answer.  Your people have to buy in. They need to understand, “What’s in it for me?”

Brailsford shares, “When you align what their doing with a group of other people behind the goal, then you’re in business. It doesn’t matter if they get on or not,   Give people ownership.  As human beings we like to have an influence over what we do and how we do it. The people I see who are successful, the doers, they get shite done. You can walk a thousand miles, but you can only do it one step at a time, but it doesn’t take too long before you’ve done quite a few steps. If you go after all these incremental gains, aggregate them all together, we were capable of getting better, it was something we could believe in and achieve. “

Core Principles

In this video Brailsford explains Team Sky’s Core Principles.

C = Commitment

Screen people for commitment.  Do they have an intrinsic desire toward achieving a goal? Are they committed to it?  Commitment is different than motivation.  Motivation ebbs and flows. Commitment is an underlying drive to where we want to get. You may have Immensely talented people, but if the commitment toward the goal isn’t present, Team Sky won’t work with them.

O = Ownership 

People don’t like to be told what to do, they don’t like being given non negotiable tasks to do. They like to be asked their opinion, not told what to do. Let your people have a say in what they are doing, in what their development plans are.  Give them ownership. British Cycling requires everyone to have an opinion. It’s a professional obligation.

You’re expected to have an opinion and then wherever possible they work with collective opinion. Whenever you want to get the best out of somebody, create environment where people are free to speak, don’t feel frightened or under scrutiny to speak their mind. If they don’t speak to you, they’ll speak to somebody behind your back, and all of a sudden the dynamic of the team will disappear.” 

Take the crown off the head of the coach and putting it on the head of the rider. Giving them freedom and ownership over their development and training plan. When our coaches realized they were there to manage & support riders, everything started to flourish in the right direction.

R = Responsibility

Accountability has to be made clear to every individual. Your people need to understand what they’re accountable for, and equally, what they’re not accountable for. What’s expected and what’s not expected in performance terms. What’s expected and what’s not expected in attitudinal terms. Which leads to…

E = Excellence

This is personal excellence, not on the world stage, it’s about being the best YOU can be.  It’s the best you can work for YOU. It’s excellence for themselves.

Do your Core Values in your business provide this brilliance in expected behaviour for your people?

Marginal Gains

Brailsford feels this is more of a philosophy than a tangible system.

We are always striving for improvement, for those 1% gains, in absolutely every single thing we do”- Dave Brailsford

Improve everything you are working on by a small percentage, when you put it all together you’ve got this big improvement (This intention is similar to our Cash Resource, the Power of One)

Starting at about 7:30 on the video, Brailsford explains his discussions with his mechanics on tires, how they push back on suggestions, that’s not his job, it’s their job, leave it to us.  This is highly ineffective in a team.

By looking for the marginal gains, the conversations took on a whole new mindset. Everyone looks for little things collectively. What can make us improve?  Your team becomes open-minded to it. No longer do they see it as someone scrutinizing their area, or criticizing for not doing something they’re meant to be doing,

It’s a team concept we want to develop.

What Do Marginal Gains Look Like?

This Video provides two examples.

Here’s one you may struggle with, spending a lot of time in meetings. Brailsford measured the time invested, set up the exactly same format for their meeting agendas, minute taking, follow up action steps, eliminate interruptions, specify what the outcome should be.

Team Sky moved from ineffective to effective meetings.  That’s a marginal gain.

My good friend, Doug Wick – Scaling Up Coach in Cedar Rapids Iowa is the author of this insightful article.

To Scale Up your business! Take our Scaling Up/Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.





Ted Bonel – Strategy & Execution Advisors

About Strategy & Execution

We have been providing organisations and their leaders with facilitation support and executive education focused on strategy development & strategy execution for more than 20 years. We support organisations seeking to create or refine excellent strategies and execute them quickly and effectively.

Our expertise is based on a mixture of wide business experience, effective tools as well as a great deal of consulting and executive education. Our approach to working with clients is as unique as our specialist focus. We always seek to challenge our clients’ thinking – but equally are unafraid to roll up our sleeves and help execute the ideas we help generate. Learn more about us here or view our upcoming workshops and events.

If you are preparing for strategy development and/or a strategy implementation challenge and are committed to creating value for your organisation, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact us now