I was studying the result of my second daughter and I found out that the difference between her grade and the highest score in her class was less than 1%. In many contests, I usually find this phenomenon repeating itself. For instance in a sprint to determine the fastest man or woman, the time it takes for the winner to beat all other contestants in most cases is less than 1%.
What it means is that if all other contestants can improve by 1%, they will win the race. The 1% difference is almost insignificant but the fame and prize reward is exponentially significant.
To improve by 1%, you need to improve in every area of the game until the difference becomes remarkable. The area to be worked on can be identified through assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
In the workplace, what makes one team member better than another is less than 1%. They may just be better in analytics, communications, report writing, team lead, human relations, financial prudence, marketing or hands-on skills which gives them significant advantage over their peers. If others can overcome this 1% barrier, they can achieve exponential results.
For any leader aspiring to be the best, they must think of how to execute things faster, cheaper and better through continuous improvement. To achieve this, they must study the top performers and identify their 1% advantage that gives them edge over others.
In explaining the principle of overcoming the 1% barrier to get exponential results, Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man in the 2008 summer Olympics comes in handy. In the 100m finals, Bolt achieved a new world record of 9.69 seconds despite challenges like unfavorable wind and an untied shoe lace. He later went on to set another world record of 9.58 seconds in the 100m race by improving 1% over his last record. Usain Bolt’s first world record of 9.72 seconds in 2008 broke Asafa Powell’s record of 9.74 seconds in 2007 by using the 1% improvement principle.
Significantly, in the 2009 Olympics race, where Usain Bolt recorded the world record, he contested against seven (7) other athletes. The slowest member of the race Darvis Patton recorded a time of 10.34 seconds. If Patton can consistently work on 1% improvement above his performance in less than one year he can become a world record holder. It is important to note that Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell who came second and third respectively can beat Usain Bolt if they adopt the 1% principle by improving on current records.