Naber is the perfect example of what author Robert Collier was describing when he wrote, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." As a teenager, I had the opportunity to hear Naber speak about his Olympic success. Let me share with you how he toppled the dynasty Roland Matthes had created over the preceding nine years.
Matthes held the record for the 100 meter backstroke of 56.30 seconds and the 200 meter backstroke of 2:01:87, which he set at Munich, Germany in 1972 and Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1973 respectively. As Naber described it, he was several seconds slower than Matthes, which in swimming terms might as well be minutes among Olympic athletes. Undaunted, Naber set his sites on winning the Gold and setting a new world record at the 76' Games. Doing this required setting goals that would push him to stretch, but were also realistic and attainable. In a nutshell, this is what he did:
- He determined how many seconds he needed to cut off his time to set a new World Record and divided it by four (the years he had to prepare for the Olympics).
- He calculated how much faster he would need to be each month and each week to meet the yearly goals.
- He then considered the number of days and workouts each day to determine how much faster he would need to be every day and every workout.
- Finally, he calculated how much faster he would need to be within every set of every workout, and thought "I can do this."
Naber's story is meaningful because it demonstrates that sometimes, in my opinion most of the time, gradual and steady progress contributes to monumental outcomes. I believe the same is true for project based work. Project management tools, including PPM software enable project managers and teams to make efficiency improvements that impact project success. Although there are some immediately apparent and substantial gains that can be achieved with the right project management software, there are many small and incremental efficiencies that can provide exponential gains in productivity.
What are some of the small improvements in efficiency you've found that have a substantial impact in project success?