Pinpoint Software was previously based in Whitewater, WI, a small town of about 14,000 people. If you are thinking to yourself the name Whitewater sounds familiar, it is probably because of the college here, and more specifically, the football team. UW-Whitewater’s football team has been to 8 out of the last 9 Stagg Bowls (the championship game for Division 3 football). The team has won 5 of those 8, amassing a record of 122-8 in that nine year stretch. Everyone has a different definition of success, but I think that pretty much everyone could agree that those type of results would make anyone happy. So how is Whitewater able to keep this impressive record going year after year?
In a recent interview, a news station asked head coach, Lance Leipold, what the secret was for the team’s success, and he said it was their focus on getting 1% better every single day. In other words, get just a little bit stronger, and just a little bit more efficient with technique and execution every day.
This same concept can apply to retail operations. Striving to gradually improve every single day makes it significantly more impactful over the long run when measuring performance.
Focus On the Benchmark Goals
The reason that the 1% improvement strategy works so well is that it establishes the benchmarks along the way towards bigger performance goals. Think about your number one goal, or where you want the finish line to be, whether that is one year from now, ten years from now, or fifty years from now. For Whitewater, the goal each year is to win the national championship. To get there, they need to make the playoffs. To make the playoffs, they need to win the conference championship. If they want to win the conference championship, they have to win every (or almost every) game. In order to win each game, they have to get better every week and focus on your opponent for that week. If they are going to beat an opponent on the weekend, they have to work hard every day during the week at practice. At practice, the goal is simple; become 1% better than they were yesterday. By focusing on process improvement and trying to achieve a little at a time, the team sets themselves up to reach their goals.
Applying the 1% Theory To Retail Operations
Whether in sports or retail operations, success comes down to getting the little details right. Make sure that you and your team are working to improve every single day. You might not notice much of a difference today or tomorrow, but wouldn’t it be great to look back a year from now and realize your daily efforts added up to being 365% better?
Photo credit: Hillary Deppe.