Marginal Gains; Developing a high-performance environment through clear communication

12 July 2021

Since David Brailsford MBE introduced the concept over 17 years ago, ‘marginal gains’ has been a buzzword within the world of sport. With leaders across the globe looking to implement similar techniques to achieve accumulated success. These gains can come from different areas depending on the discipline, but one area that has come to prominence in recent years is effective communication.  

The ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ was first coined by Brailsford whose relentless approach to tiny improvements saw British Cycling rise from mediocre, to Olympic Champions and Tour De France winners, shattering world records along the way. In his book, ‘Atomic Habits’, James Clear states that if an individual improves 1% per day, then across the course of the year they will be 37 times better than when they started. These small daily, marginal improvements compound over time and lead to accumulated successes. Brailsford’s technique at British Cycling was an unrelenting approach to empower the athlete, focusing on what they need to perform at the highest individual standard, culminating in team successes. Clarity; taking away any noise from the athlete, is becoming more prominent throughout the world of sport.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport has driven Team Mercedes to a record 7 straight Formula 1 Championships. Not Figuratively, of course, that’s Lewis Hamilton’s role, but Toto is the man responsible for creating the environment for Hamilton to succeed. He’s been hailed by Hamilton as ‘the best leader here’ when referring to Formula 1. Wolff, like Brailsford, focuses on empowering the staff and the athletes, understanding that success is about creating the environment they need to succeed. Though F1 is single-seat, it’s certainly a team sport with over a thousand team members at Mercedes, it’s important to create a clear culture that drives high performance. 

Effective communication across the departments is integral to success, with clarity and focus on the job at hand being vital to the individual. Wolff joined Mercedes from the business world, where like in sport, there’s been a shift towards culture and communication. Now, more than ever, there are organisational roles purely for cultural and communication development and management. In any organisation, whether that’s business or elite sport, cultural changes often need to be outlined from the top but implemented throughout an organisation as a whole to succeed, with specific responsibilities at every level defined to do so.

Elite sporting environments are the pinnacle of high performance. With the different departments focusing on their specific discipline to prepare the athletes for the demands of competition. A multi-disciplinary approach to performance is becoming ever-growing, with the increasing demands of roles like sports science, medical, injury prevention, nutrition, analysis, recovery, etc. Alongside commercial opportunities and the athlete’s personal responsibilities, it can become overwhelming for the athlete to perform. In Kairos’ recent ‘Planning Excellence’ webinar, Joe Schmitt, Director of Rugby and High Performance at World Rugby, told viewers ‘the better your planning the more pressure you take out of your own week, and it’s the same for the players’. Highlighting that clear communication and scheduling to players is critical to achieving high performance. Schmitt wanted his players to have clarity on the training week so they could focus on performing at their best. You can watch the whole webinar here

In a world where every team is now all over the idea of ‘marginal gains’ in performance, where is the next gain to be seen? It’s in the clarity of communication that is concise and empowering for both players and staff. 

And that’s where Kairos comes in. Through years of working alongside world-renowned teams we understand the time that can be needlessly taken, and the clutter that can be created by ineffective communication. So we have developed our platform to be the most powerful and functional platform on the market. Everybody has access to one interactive schedule and communications tool removing the need for a myriad of outdated tools and methods. It’s a cultural shift to empower the athlete, brings clarity and time saving to staff, and helps clubs achieve gains in high-performance environments. 


Kairos is focused on game day preparation. They are the world’s most effective platform for simplifying scheduling, streamlining communications, and maximising player engagement in elite sports. They equip teams across the globe, including teams from the EPL, EFL, Premiership Rugby, Pro 14, MLS, and international football teams. To find out more about the platform, get in touch below.