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What can industry learn from sport? – Post 4 of 6 – Cycling



Strategy – Cycling

There was a time when cycling was simply an efficient way to pop to the shops or get to and from school. In recent years the popularity of competitive racing has grown exponentially.

Professional riders are now among the world’s fittest elite athletes. Every aspect of their training, nutrition physical and mental wellbeing is measured, assessed and attempts made to improve upon last year’s version of perfection. The bikes have also changed and are now manufactured from space age technology materials such as carbon fibre, kevlar and advanced composites. Most competitive machines will now weigh the minimum of 6.8kg that the UCI regulations require.

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about what appears to be an individual sport is the importance of team work and strategy. Pacing speed over the whole of a race is important, but riders in a peloton who ride closely together, slipstream each other in order to make a dramatic reduction in drag. Studies have shown drag reductions of between 27% and 50% for riders that are drafting, with the exact reduction depending on a number of variables. This leads to cooperation and competition in terms of the interaction between the riders and teams with an advanced application of strategy required in the professional peloton.

Key to the delivery of a complex business objective is always having an effective strategy. The various stakeholders, including consultants, contractors, specialists and the client all have complex and potentially competing interests which can be aligned briefly for the duration of a project to give very effective delivery. This construction peloton needs to have the key riders fully briefed and on the same page as to what the strategy is and to understand at what time they will need to lead, and when they will need to tuck in behind the others to support the others. Strategic decisions on major projects are not just taken at inception or business case, they are made right the way through the project. General Eisenhower once said that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” an effective strategy that’s flexible enough to be changed as issues arise on a project is critical to deliver.

Our congratulations to Egan Bernal for winning this year’s Tour de France.

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