Shaking Up Performance: The Power of Change

I was once training with my brother Robert, who is a much better and more experienced runner than I am, and after we finished our run he said to me, it would be very easy for me to increase my speed. I was surprised and said I wasn’t so sure, especially since I was recovering from what felt like a tough run.

He said yes, there are mainly two ways to increase speed, either increase the number of strides per minute, or lengthen your stride, and from what I can see you have been focused on increasing strides per minute.

So now you need to change and look to lengthen your stride, if you can increase it by 10% then you will increase your speed by 10%.

When I tried it on my training run, Rob told me to really exaggerate lengthening the stride, he said that it would feel uncomfortable to start with but it would help and that I would naturally increase my stride a little by doing that.

It did feel strange, but it did significantly increase my time, although there’s no way I could keep up the exaggerated stride running for too long, but I did feel the difference and when I started to run more comfortably I could look to increase my stride to a comfortable level, which will benefit my speed.

Why do I mention this, well if we want to improve in the things that we do, whether it’s our personal goals, company projects, or running operations, then we need to look to do things differently, shake things up, try a different approach to see if we can get a bit more performance.

Try to exaggerate the improvements for a short period of time and see if you can learn how to incorporate some aspects of it that will help improve performance.

If we keep doing things the same way and just look for organic performance improvements, then pretty quickly our performance will plateau.

Usually, there are quite a few factors that we can look at when we want to improve performance and we need to make sure we look at each of these and see what we can do to improve them.

In one company I worked in we had too much downtime for our IT systems, we averaged over 50 outages a month and it was felt that given the number of systems we had it would be difficult to reduce this number quickly because of cost and complexity, our overall downtime averaged around 600 hours.

But when it comes to downtime it’s not just about how many problems you have, it’s also about how long it takes to fix them, and our average fix time was around 12 hours per problem.

So we needed to focus on reducing that as well.  We decided that we would look to take an aggressive approach and see if we could reduce our average fix time from 12 to 6 hours.

Once we started to look at it, we could see that although our average was 12 hours, most tickets were fixed in under 6, but we had a few tickets which were taking closer to 30 hours. So if we could fix these more quickly, then we would be close to achieving our goal.

By focusing on the resolution time we not only reduced our downtime from 600 hours per month to 300, but it also inspired the team to then look at reducing the number of problems.

Altogether this helped reduce our overall system downtime to just 30 hours per month compared to the original 600.

When we want to make significant improvements, then we need to shake things up, look at all aspects, and see if we can improve all areas, then we will see drastic improvements.

Given all this, I am going to continue looking to increase my stride length in the hope that I will be able to see a 10% improvement in my running times.

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