Marginal Gain: How to Improve your Business Performance, 1% at a time

Marginal Gain is the process of seeking the 1% improvements that aggregate to significant and sustainable performance over time. In other words, these small incremental improvements in any process amount to a significant improvement when they are all added together.

The theory of marginal gains was created by Sir Dave Brailsford and has been credited for vaulting the British cycling team from a mediocre performer to 16 gold medals over two Olympics, and seven Tour de France wins in eight years.

The concept was so successful that businesses realized that it is much easier to focus on manageable improvements where you see specific results than to chase big ideas that may lead nowhere.

By breaking down every aspect of your business, you can find the areas of strength and also the areas that need improvement. With all that in place, it is time to build a strategy that can lead to small steps along the way to reach the major goal in the mid and long term.

The Aggregation of Marginal Gains

It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making minor improvements daily. It is common to find leaders that believe that massive success requires massive action.

In the beginning, you will probably notice no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse, not impacting your daily life. However, these minor improvements will eventually find a larger gap between people who make slightly better decisions daily and those who do not.

You can apply the same concept of marginal improvement by 1% each day in various areas of your professional and personal life:

  • Improve the leadership team performance
  • Increase sales
  • Improve your skills
  • Work out
  • Providing better customer experience
  • Saving money
  • Have better scores at school

How to Implement Marginal Gains in Your Business

Individuals who are mentally tough and successful at what they do understand that the cumulative effect of small changes leads to significant outcomes. And remember, every detail counts.

  • Learn from other industries

Look for inspiration and learning best practices from other industries that inspire new ideas on best practices.

  • Set achievable goals for success

Every workplace, function, and department has one overarching goal that directs the work and motivates the team.

  • Improve the structure

Analyze and improve daily tasks and the way they are structured.

  • Create an effective training routine

Invest in periodic training and coaching for the team.

  • Find the mistakes

Do not let mistakes get in the way of your success. Learn from them and replace them with better ways to do it

  • Eliminate bad habits

Make the people conscious about a bad habit and replace it by teaching a new way of doing it.

The Bottom Line

Implementing the marginal gains theory in your business can lead you to implement best practices, finding better ways to grow one step at a time. Never stop looking for the smallest mistakes and build a consistent and solid culture that will encourage a detail-oriented leadership team that will inspire others.


Written with the 2021 Olympics and Post Covid-19 in mind, Eric Bailey does share not only his personal stories but also his strategies and tools to help us all thrive in our lives, Going for Gold. Click on the link for your playbook to win the Gold…And Live Your Personal Best.

Also, do not forget to download Eric’s most recent E-book, STRAIGHT OUTTA DA HOOD, your not ordinary self-help guide to help teenagers live an extraordinary life. And the best part? It is free for everyone!

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