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Do Constant Improvements Matter?

As you probably know, I like to look for ways to improve all the time. In the slower months of summer, I try to spend a little time coming up with a plan to rethink everything that I do. I typically like to spread this work out into quarters. This first quarter I will be taking a deep look into where I spend my time and how to improve.

As an ironic twist, I'm wondering if my process of consistently reviewing things for improvement makes sense. After a lot of pondering and a bunch of research, I stumbled upon the world of ski jumping. Here's what I found.

This week back in 1924 the Winter Olympics were held for the first time as its own event. One of those events was the ski jump. A crazy sport that started about a 100 years earlier and continues to this day. Way back in 1808, Olaf Rye won the first ever ski jumping competition with a whopping 31-foot jump. I think I've fallen down the stairs farther than that. Now compare that to Stefan Kraft's 831-foot jump in 2017.

Throughout the years ski jumping has had consistent small and big gains due to improvements in equipment, ski conditions, athlete's strength, and technique. Some of the most significant gains have come from simple tweaks to the technique. For example:

· The Dascher Technique - The arms are positioned down and the bend at the hips is gone.

· The V-Style - The tips of the skis are spread apart.

The V-Style was an amazingly simple change that resulted in jumps going 10% farther. This simple, but effective, change took about 20 years to be accepted within the Judging community. The Judges were being stubborn and did not want things to change, so they would take off points if the skis were not parallel. It wasn't until a few jumpers insisted on using this method during some significant events, wowing the crowd and forcing the Judges to accept a superior way to jump. Within a few years, everyone adopted this new way.

Now, more than ever, I'm realizing that the search for constant improvement is not only a great habit, but a necessity to a strong business. And as they say, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention".


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