How 1% Improvements Won Britain the Tour de France

“Forget about perfection; focus on progression, and compound the improvements.”
--Sir Dave Brailsford, Head of Britain’s Team Sky.


When Dave Brailsford took over as General Manager (GM) of Britain’s Team Sky in 2010, Britain had never won the Tour de France.

The team set out to win the sport’s biggest competition within 5 years – their strategy was not to make huge leaps but tiny, incremental changes. They focused on making 1% improvements in every area they could imagine – nothing was off the table. They looked at equipment, how they washed their hands, and even the pillows they slept on. After just two years of focus on marginal gains, in 2012 Britain won the Tour de France. They went on to win again in 2013, 2015 and 2016. If you want to learn more about Brailsford’s approach, read this Harvard Business Review interview.

How might this concept of marginal improvement apply to your life?

At the Tycuda Group we have found that marginal improvements make a huge difference, in our investment management approach and in our clients’ lives. Whether you are looking at improving your savings rate – such as trimming an extra $100 or $1,000 off of your monthly expenses and investing it – or the power of a 1% improvement in your portfolio’s performance, small actions have a big impact.

Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge, writes that continual, incremental improvements don’t necessarily show big results in the beginning, but over time they make a big difference. Over time those changes should look like the chart below, in either a positive or negative direction[i].


Why not treat your finances the way Britain approached the Tour de France?

Like Britain’s professional cycling team, you likely need a great coach or coaches.  Someone who will help you to continually improve and refine your actions so you get to your goals. Life isn’t a dry run and it is dynamic and changing. You need to adapt as you go and have the right players on your team. Seeking continual improvement will not make you rich over night, but over time it is sure to pay dividends.


[i] Graph adapted by James Clear, taken from Olson’s book The Slight Edge