Do you use marginal gains to improve products or problems in your industry?

Just so we’re clear. I mean. Developing small incremental improvements to a product or service over time. And on their own they could be classed as insignificant. But added together they create a step change and can sometimes even be revolutionary.

Sir James Dyson is a brilliant example…

Dyson (in his mid 20’s) was vacuuming his home. When his vacuum lost suction and started screaming. The bag was full and he didn’t have a spare. So Dyson ripped it open, emptied it & sellotaped it back together. But still the suction was no better and the vacuum was still screaming at him.

It’s then Dyson realised the real problem. It was not that the bag was full. It was a thin lining of dust on the inside of the bag causing the loss of suction. You see, the bag doubles as a filter and the logic is simple. Dust & air is sucked into the bag, and the air escapes through tiny holes in the lining of the bag into the motor. Whilst the dust is left trapped in the bag.

And the reason why all conventional vacuum cleaners suction dips so rapidly (even after you install a fresh bag)? The fine dust blocks the tiny holes in the bag (the filter) stopping the air flow and lessening the suction. This was Dyson’s eureka moment.

The idea of a bag-less vacuum percolated in Dyson’s mind for the next 3 years. Then, after visiting a timber merchant, the solution hit him like a thunderbolt. Back then timber merchants cut things to order, and to remove the saw dust from the air they used something called an industrial cyclone. All Dyson had to do was work out a way of making this industrial cyclone work at a domestic level on a vacuum cleaner.

This simple idea (solving a problem in an existing product), would ultimately make Dyson a personal fortune of over £3 billion. Yes £3 billion. But it didn’t happen over night. It took Dyson 15 years and 5,127 prototypes to get his original idea to improve the vacuum cleaner to market.

And each 1 of those 5,127 prototypes was a small incremental improvement to the original vacuum cleaner design. Yes, a number of marginal gains, which when added together revolutionised the vacuum cleaning industry.

We use marginal gains in our printing solution business too. We’ve studied hard what issues and problems circulate in our industry, and over time we’ve developed solutions to improve them.

Our solutions provide certainty to those that use them, which we found was the biggest issue. People need the certainty that it’s fit for their purpose, the certainty that their price will never increase and the certainty their covered if it goes wrong.

We’ve come across so many people who feel they’ve been hoodwinked by unscrupulous suppliers signing them up to unethical terms & conditions. Which lead to unlimited price rises, contracts that automatically roll over, large financial penalties if you try to cancel due to poor service and excessive charges for moves, adds or changes. That we’ve used marginal gains to improve the ethics in our industry too (well at least our own ethics).

Over time we looked at the contractual hoodwinking that is happening. And we’ve worked hard to make our agreements fair and transparent through guarantees. We guarantee your price will never increase. We guarantee the level of service we provide. We guarantee to let you leave without penalty for poor service. We guarantee you can upgrade or downgrade your service without penalty. We guarantee to charge a fair price for any extra works you may require.

These are some of the ways we’ve been using marginal gains in our business. I’ll admit, not as revolutionary as Sir James Dyson. But we are revolutionising the printer and photocopier industry. By providing people with solutions full of certainty backed up by agreements that protect you.

Marginal gains is a tool that every organisation can use in some way. The British cycling team use it to great success. David Beckham used it to hone his free kicks and crosses from a very young age. Even Google used the method to change their advert colour, adding $200 million to their profits.

It’s time for you to ask the question. How can you use marginal gains to benefit your organisation?