While I was away on holiday earlier in the summer I read Richard Moore’s book ‘Heroes, Villains, & Velodromes’ which tells the story of Chris Hoy who went on to win three gold medals in Beijing. While Chris’s achievements are not surprisingly the focus of the book, there’s some intriguing insight into the infrastructure that sits behind Chris, namely British Cycling.
Britain failed to win an Olympic cycling medal during the whole on the 1980’s. At Atlanta where Britain only won one gold medal in all events (rowing), cycling contributed two medals. Thereafter, guided initially by Peter Keen and later Dave Brailsford, a steady transformation was initiated that culminated in the team winning seven out of the ten available track cycling gold medals on offer in Beijing, and with only one of the track team – Mark Cavendish who had to console himself with his four Tour De France stage wins earlier in the summer – not winning a medal.
While British Cycling has undoubtedly benefited from an influx of lottery funding, so too have many sports which haven’t gone on to create similar results. What stands out with British Cycling is the quality of infrastructure that has been built up and the complete professionalism of the team. There’s a nice quote in Moore’s book from Dave Brailsford that summarises the whole ethos, attributing success to ‘performance by the aggregation of marginal gains. It means taking the 1 per cent from everything you do; finding a 1 per cent margin for improvement in everything you do’.
To switch this to CRM for a moment, the concept of continually improving things is something that intrigues me from a CRM standpoint. I’m convinced that the route to success with CRM technology is not just to get things right on initial implementation, but to create an environment where the system is continually tweaked and enhanced over time to maximise the value. In the coming weeks I’ll try and put down some more structured thought on the change management challenge of CRM, but suffice to say at this stage I think this is something that many organisations struggle with.
Switching back to sport again, Sunday saw the Ironman UK triathlon take place in Sherborne, in which I was privileged to be a competitor. 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles cycling, and 26.2 miles running later, I’m feeling a little sore, but fortunately I’m in one piece! I can now switch back to a rather more sedentary life style which should result in some more regular blogging. I can’t however guarantee the end of the sporting metaphors, I think there’s a lot to learn from the way professional sports teams go about their business.