How much did you grow this year?

It’s not unusual at this time of year to see a brand manager beam about “X% growth.” After all, a brand manager’s success within his or her company is tied to growth. Any advancement is seen as a good thing, regardless of whether or not specific goals were reached.

The question remains, though: How successful were you?

If you’re like the overwhelming majority of pharma companies, you take a very wideview of your brand’s activity—that is, sea to shining sea, and with a rather foggy lens. “National growth” is seen in aggregate, and that leaves a lot of information either ignored or simply “unseen.”

There is a different kind of aggregation that you may find interesting—and ultimately success-enhancing.

One of the world’s most famous professional cycling teams is Team Sky, a British-based squad. They’ve won the Tour de France 2 out of the last 3 years, as well as seen significant results in a host of other races lesser known to American sports fans. Their team manager, Sir Dave Brailsford, credits his management success to his philosophy of the “aggregation of marginal gains.”

In an interview that has somewhat defined his career, he stated that if you could improve every aspect related to cycling performance by just 1 percent, then you’d ultimately end up with a remarkable increase.

The most obvious aspects were measured and addressed first—things like the weight of the wheels on the bikes and the nutrition plans of the racers. But the team soon realized that the “obvious” things were no place to end. They looked for small improvements absolutely everywhere, including those that seemed trivial, like using special pillows that the team riders would take from hotel to hotel during the midst of long races and conducting instructional seminars to teach the team how to wash their hands more effectively to ward off infection.

When Brailsford started his program, the hope was to be “in a position to win” the Tour in 5 years. They did much better. They won it in 3, and then repeated it the following year.

When you look at your marketing performance in aggregate, you fail to notice what appear to be trivialities: how a testing protocol in one market differs from another; how a governmental policy in one state alters access as opposed to neighboring states; or how the professional population in one market in relationship to its patient population is a business driver—or detractor.

When you have a protocol in place to not only capture these facts but also convert them into actions that are both strategic and tactically sound, you have begun the process of aggregating marginal gains.

So, if your growth this year wasn’t as significant as you’d hoped it would be, perhaps you weren’t thinking small enough.

Contact HRM and we can lead you through our process of identifying, capturing, interpreting, and acting upon these very valuable “trivialities.”

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