When it comes to endurance, determination, and the will to win, the Tour de France — the most famous and prestigious cycling competition in the world — is unparalleled. While the single-minded drive of a rider to cross the finish line is vital, the Tour is also a team competition, and it is from the most collaborative, innovative, and dynamic teams that champions arise.
But the Tour also throws up lessons that can be harnessed to equip your business to outperform the competition in a fast-changing world. By studying what contributes to glory on two wheels, you’ll be better able to set up your internal culture for success as you transform your organization.
In cycling, the peloton refers to the main group of riders huddled together in a pack. At the heart of a well-formed peloton, an individual can experience as much as 40% less drag, allowing them to save energy for the final sprint. Teammates will work together using this tactic, shielding their number-one rider until the moment comes for them to break free and go for the win.
If you can replicate this kind of teamwork in business, you’ll be ahead of the game. Teams that combine a diverse array of skills and bring out the best in each other will be best placed to overtake their competitors and claim victory. Not everyone will end up wearing the yellow jersey, but every part of the team has a vital role to play in any kind of success.
The Tour de France is famous for its mountains — the riders who can master them gain legendary status. When stamina and perseverance prevail and the rider reaches the top, he’s rewarded with the exhilaration of the descent. A skilful descent means a rider can gain a major advantage in the race.
Today’s challenging business environment and the prospect of digital transformation presents leaders with many mountains to climb, but there are rewards at the end of these battles, too. Take the rise of regulation, for example. Many leading voices agree that those who champion compliance will ultimately transform their businesses and have the opportunity to steal a march on the competition. Any kind of innovation or internal change isn’t easy and can require a lot of work to get off the ground, but the hard work now will reap the rewards in the form of increased customer loyalty and profit later.
Throughout its 115-year history, the Tour has hosted the legends of the sport. A few of them have had something extra special, which has pushed them to extraordinary feats. Belgian rider Eddy Merckx won the race five times, adding to an unequalled 11 Grand Tour victories. It was his raw talent that elevated him from a champion to a legend, and it is now more important than ever that businesses work proactively to find those individuals that show they have something special about them.
In business, teams that are proactive about fostering, nurturing, and seeking out talent from both within and outside their organisation will be the most successful. The pace of technology development today is unprecedented, so to fuel this constant growth and progress, organizations need to create a constant progression of outstanding individuals.
A major part of the evolution of the Tour has been the transformation of the bikes and other equipment the teams use. The heavy metal frames of the past have been replaced by carbon fibre and other dynamic materials, and not so long ago riders wore cloth hats instead of protective, aerodynamic headgear.
It’s the same in business — if you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards. Digital transformation is completely changing the game, and businesses large and small are waking up to it. Just as the riders can gain great benefits from more sophisticated gear, businesses exploring new technologies are most likely to thrive in the future. But to realise the full potential of new technology, it is essential that businesses adapt their ways of working to best suit the new tools.
Cycling teams’ use of data has had a disruptive impact on the sport, just as it has for organisations across the world. On the modern Tour, teams monitor the performance of every rider in incredible detail. With cloud technology and GPS tracking in play, the modern cyclist is analysed in minute detail.
In the same way that teams study data created by their riders to give them every possible advantage, businesses must analyze their customer data to find ways of improving their products or services. In retail, for example, analysing customer buying trends will help implement a seamless experience that intuitively links in-store and online shopping, sending consumers the right offers at the right time.
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