Reversing Nigeria's "Aggregation of marginal decline"

The now famous concept of "performance by the aggregation of marginal gains" was first propounded in sports by Sir David Brailsford, the British cycling coach who utilized this concept in turning the British Olympic cycling team into a ruthless, unstoppable winning machine over the past 16 years.

Most of us may not be very familiar with cycling. So, i will use the more familiar sports of Football to explain this concept. The world's best footballer, Lionel Messi have played football at the highest level for almost exactly five years scooping up 17 club or international trophies, four consecutive Ballon d'or with barely a physical blip or injury.

Few people knew that in 2008, just before his remarkable run without injury, Messi lost eight calendar months across two years to various injury. This led Barcelona to devise a a holistic plan for his future performance in line with Brailsford's concept of "performance by the aggregation of marginal gains". Barca went on to manage the number of meals Messi had, what type of food he ate, how many hours of sleep he had to get, what type of stretching he had to do every day. Messi was also assigned a special fitness coach, Juanjo Brau, who follows him wherever he went.

And the initiation of this plan coincided with Messi's impressive run. so, this plan can be said to have been successful.

How do we Apply this "performance by the aggregation of marginal gains" to the Nigerian Situation.

Whenever I listen to my father and older persons talk about how good the country was in 70s and 80s and the promises it held, i ask myself "how did we get here?". Are Nigerians of today different from Nigerians of the 70s and 80s? What changed?

The answer lies in "Aggregation of marginal decline" which is just the opposite of "Aggregation of marginal gains". A myriad of problems most of which are minor and incremental have finally combined to make Nigeria a "perfect storm." To put Nigeria in this situation where it seems that there is no way out.

If only these minor problems where taken care of immediately they were discovered, Nigeria would have been in a better situation today. But there is no need crying over spilled milk. But How can we remedy the situation?

When describing the concept of "performance by the aggregation of marginal gains", Sir Brailsford's said: "It means taking the 1 percent from everything you do; finding a 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do. That's what we try to do from the mechanics upwards. If a mechanic sticks a tyre on and someone comes along and says it could be done better, it's not an insult -- it's because we are always striving for improvement, for those 1 percent gains, in absolutely every single thing we do."

This approach is exactly what Nigeria needs. Nigeria cannot be changed overnight. We need a continuous and dedicated approach of improving gradually. It took sir Brailsford 16 years to implement this strategy on the British Olympic cycling team. It will obviously take Nigeria much more time. But it is feasible.

Let's start with things as minor as view of civil servants that "government properties belong to nobody". As marginal as it may sound, just imagine what happens if half of the civil servants in Nigeria should take their job seriously just the way they would have if they were in the private sector.

It is these little things that we failed to correct over the years that brought us to where we are today. And if we must make meaningful progress, we must start from these little little things.

The little little things we do and think it doesn't matter, They actually matter a lot


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