As a cyclist and a big fan of the Tour de France it’s been fascinating for me to see how Team Sky – a British team with no background in cycling — have managed in just a few years to dominate the sport, winning three out of last five Tour de France races. The Tour is the biggest test of human endurance and Team Sky have been able to unlock potential in cycling that no other organisation has been able to do before them. They attracted money to the sport, challenged conventional cycling technologies and human factors and, most critically, worked as a team with the best partners they could.
Crucially, the team adopted the “aggregation of marginal gains” approach, where every area is examined in minute detail for possible improvement, and the cumulative effect of many small gains gives a considerable advance on the opposition. These changes, for example transporting each cyclist’s own mattress and pillow from stage to stage to ensure a quality sleep each night, were previously unheard of and totally disrupted the status quo in professional road cycling. Team Sky unleashed the potential in themselves and in the sport and set the bar for success at new heights.
American author Eric D Thomas talked about this in his book The Secrets of Success when he said, “You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point you have to unleash your potential and make your move.” His teachings inspired Team Sky to unleash their potential and to make a move, and now the world of road cycling will never be the same.
It makes me think of the saying “May you live in interesting times.” It certainly feels this is true for India, and all over the world too. For example, next week in London, India’s Prime Minister Modi will deliver the biggest public address ever held in the UK of a government minister at Wembley Stadium in front of 70,000 people. And India, here in the year 2015, is rated seventh highest country for market potential in the world and one of the top gainers this last year in business reputation.
And whilst India is still in the bottom third in global innovation rankings, I believe the interconnecting vectors of mobile, cloud, Internet of Things and Digital India offer the chance for Indian enterprises to leapfrog more developed markets, like we have seen in the rapid rise in e-commerce. Who would have thought a unicorn could be built from a national Indian market until ecommerce exploded? As Eric D Thomas said – unleash the potential and make your move. And like Team Sky, be bold and leapfrog the competition in years, not decades.
What do you think is the secret to unleashing potential? Leave your comments below. And in part 2, published next week, I’ll talk about how the lessons from Team Sky can be taken into the business world.