The One Percent Strategy
September 4, 2023

What organisations can learn from sport’s application of an approach to performance improvement

With the Rugby World Cup about to start it is interesting to explore how sport has employed this highly effective approach to performance improvement.

A lot of discussion and energy is invested in debating business transformation and the need for innovation – indeed, it’s a subject we spend much time engaged with at SaturnFive. For many organisations this may well be an appropriate strategy and an effective pathway to sustainable growth, although not all organisations need full-blooded reinvention to move forward successfully. Adopting an alternative approach of continuous improvement can be a highly impactful strategy for the right organisation. Continuous improvement is about making small changes and improvements every day, with the expectation that those small improvements will add up to something significant.

Typically, the approach to performance improvement is to set a large goal, then try to take big leaps to accomplish the goal in as little time as possible. While this may sound good in theory, it can often end in burnout, frustration, and failure and can be a major reason why audacious growth strategies fail. An alternative approach would be to focus on continuous improvement by slowly and slightly adjusting multiple procedures, actions and behaviours. This concept is well covered in James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” about becoming better by 1 percent every day. 

This week fans across the world are looking forward to the Rugby World Cup which kicks off on 8th September with the hosts France taking on the All Blacks of New Zealand.

Let’s go back to the 2007 Rugby World Cup where New Zealand were knocked out by France.  This was a turning point in All Black rugby and where the 1% philosophy started. Instead of improving 1 thing by 10%, improve 10 things by 1%.  And the result of this, the All Blacks won the next two world cups and were recognised as the best in the world with a win ratio that had gone from 75% to over 90%.

What has this got to do with business improvement?

The point is that the sum of the parts improved far outweigh any single improvement. Businesses often require a multitude of processes and actions to work in synergy to deliver outstanding performances in financial results, customer experience and long-term growth

So, if we apply this principal to business and instead of improving one area – say, new business sales by 10% – we improved 10 areas by 1% then the cumulative impact is significantly greater.  Imagine what the potential would be to improve all theses key areas of  by 1%:

1.     New business sales

2.     Customer retention rate

3.     Cross and up sale revenues

4.     Right first-time resolution through customer services

5.     Sales through service initiative

The 1% improvement strategy can make a significant difference to performance, slowly at first but it will start to deliver exponentially.  At SaturnFive we utilise a low touch approach to review several business areas to help identify opportunities for improvement.  A systematic process known as Value Engineering.

Critical to realising 1% improvements is to firstly understand where we are starting from, and then to track and measure the effectiveness over time to fully understand how the tiny gains can power your business utilising data and analytics. For one Middle Eastern Telco client this approach identified potential value (revenue and cost savings) of more than $300m and a European bank saw their fraud losses reduced by 60%.

Get in touch to find out about Value Engineering and how we can help you with the 1% strategy to power-up performance.

And finally, with no bias whatsoever, “Come On ENGLAND !! “

Shaun Janes

Associate Consultant | Data & Analytics

SaturnFive® Consulting