As a competitive cyclist (at least in my mind) and a cycling fan, I watched with interest a documentary about a pro cycling team named Team Skye who set out to get get results with incremental change. Initially, they wanted to show the world that “doping” (use of enhancement drugs to improve performance) was not necessary to win the Tour de France and compete on the international level with excellent results. They also set out to do this at a time when Lance Armstrong was finally banned from professional cycling for his doping and ultimately stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles. Public opinion of professional cycling was also at a low ebb because of cyclist doping and further, because Lance Armstrong – a hero we all wanted to believe in – lied to us.
Team Skye (their name has now changed) set out to make small incremental changes, knowing that these small incremental changes in multiple areas would add up to a very large change in the end. They didn’t know how long it would take, but they knew that if they make small changes in nutrition, training, equipment, sleep, better strategies and more, that the end result could be powerful.
Team Skye then went on to become a powerhouse in professional cycling and did it all without any performance enhancement drugs.
How do we apply this to our practices? For starters, identify all of the systems, protocols, procedures and more than take place in your practice every day. Then, ask yourself, what is one thing that would improve the outcome of that item. Is it eliminating an unnecessary step in a procedure? Is it streamlining a system to reduce steps? Is it adding a check point to a system to reduce a mistake?
Team Skye set out to make changes of improvements in all areas by 0.1%. That’s not huge at all! In your practice, that’s not huge, either, and the small changes will be easier for your team all to get on board with, too.
Even better, small incremental changes are changes that tend to stick. Large changes rarely stick for long. You will find that true of you reflect back over the past year or more when you attempted to make some broad changes. Initially, some of the changes might have helped, but for the most part, few of them are likely around anymore, and you’re not much better off.
As you have team meetings, ask your team members how they could improve by “0.1%” by suggesting they come up with a single modification to what they are doing, then doing it for the next month. At a following meeting, check in with them to see how they are faring. Make sure to provide support but not do it for them. Do this at each and every meeting from now on and see the positive results that will help you achieve the practice of your dreams!