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The Theory of Marginal Gains

There are a lot of theories developed by eminent scholars and business leaders which are supposed to assist a manager in a modern company. From the tone of that first sentence, you may gather that this blogger believes that many of these theories should remain in the textbooks in which they are written. However, some do have their uses, and the one that I hear more and more often is the Theory of Marginal Gains.

In brief, the idea is that by making incremental improvements in every area of an activity, a huge overall benefit can be achieved. Probably the best known example of this is Team GB’s cycling team under Sir David Brailsford. Their “aggregated marginal gains”approach saw the team analyse every aspect of their operations, rather than simply concentrating on the bikes and the physical training the riders go through, even going to the point of testing different mattresses and transporting these around with the team to create consistent, comfortable condition for the riders to sleep in.

Obviously, we as a steel stockholder are not going to quite this far, but looking back at how we have changed things over the last few years, there are several things that we have done that have improved a small area of our workflows. These include re-arranging the office to improve communication between the various sales departments, upgrading the phone system to integrate with our PCs, receiving faxes by email instead of a paper print-out and moving to storing all order paperwork on the server instead of as a physical folder. Of course, these activities bear little resemblance to the highly scientific approach taken by the likes of Team GB, but still resulted in the same kind of incremental benefit that allows us to service customer needs quicker and more effectively.

Of course, we’d be interested in hearing if other people have taken a similar approach, so if you have had an idea you don’t mind sharing, please let us know using the comments field below, or by getting in touch by phone or email.

The Broder Blogger

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