I read a very interesting post the other day about the power and science of marginal gains (in fact it was in the title: What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains). The article was outlined Great Britain’s plan to win their first Tour de France. The plan was simple try to make a 1% gain in every aspect of not only the sport but of the athletes life, and the aggregate of all of those tiny gains would yield big, meaningful results. If you follow cycling at all you would know the plan worked; it worked extremely well (the article goes into further detail, so I won’t hard on that). As the article states:
improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.
What a powerful statement. The article goes onto suggest that this reason is why critical moments are so often overlooked or marginalize; that the truly meaningful impacts in our lives can usually be traced back to seemingly inconsequential moment. The very interesting point is that, initially, there is very little difference between a 1 percent improvement and a 1percent regression, but over time these 1 percents compound.
As I read the article I started thinking about what the 1 percents are in my life, the 1 percents for Design BIG Dreams, the 1 percents to the Catholic Church. The more I reflect about those three things, the more intrigued I get about the impact that Design BIG Dreams is making. Personally, when we first started Design BIG Dreams, I was still in a full-time job, so the impact on my life was relatively small. In fact, for quiet some time it was barely noticeably. At the same time, DBD’s was just starting to impact the Catholic Church too, again, in a seeming such a small way that we didn’t even know were making an impact.
Over these past 4 years (almost), Design BIG Dreams has grown, and the impacts are starting to compound. From a personal stand-point, DBD became my full-time job three years ago, and starting the company was probably the 2nd best decision I’ve ever made (besides proposing to my wonderful wife). I have been afforded the opportunity to meet so many wonderful communities and people; starting locally in Chicagoland, but then growing nationally (and even internationally).
These marginal gains are much easier to see when applied to my personal reality, however, sometimes, we lose sight of the impact we are making on the Catholic Church. I know our impact currently isn’t even 1 percent, it probably isn’t even a percent of 1 percent. When DBD first started those changes were even smaller, seemingly even less significant, BUT someone noticed our work. They saw that small change and reached out, and then another and another. The reality is our impact is still very tiny, however, we are slowly starting to shape how digital communication functions on both parishes and national organizations. Our tiny percent change is starting to compound.
From my point of view, the Catholic Church has experienced too many marginal losses. Each one hardly noticeable but compounded into more significant challenges. We are at a point where there is no simply one-quick-fix that will solve every problem. We are past the point where using a “band-aid” will heal the wound. There are two paths, to continue to make the same marginal mistakes, or make a commitment to start making those small marginal improvements that will eventually add up to fantastic gains.