If Assets Were Athletes, Would You Manage Them Differently?

Dave Brailsford may not be a name that is well known in the asset management world but if you’re a cyclist, you might very well know the impact he made in the sport of elite competitive cycling.  As the coach of the British cycling team, Dave elevated them from mediocrity to being dominant during the 2008 Beijing Olympics collecting sixty percent of the available gold medals.  The team continued its domination of the sport for the following ten years.

What was the difference between Brailsford and the previous team’s coaches?

The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together – Dave Brailsford interview with Matt Slater, BBC Sport


Brailsford did the equivalent of what an asset manager would do by deconstructing the asset strategy.  The list of things included:

  • Redesign of the seat
  • Rubbed alcohol on the tires for better grip
  • Riders wore heated overshorts to maintain ideal muscle temperatures
  • Utilized biofeedback sensors to monitor how athletes responded to training
  • Tested fabrics in a wind tunnel and switched racing suits
  • Massage gels
  • Hired a surgeon to teach riders how to wash their hands to avoid catching cold
  • Determined the best pillow and mattress to optimize sleep for each rider
Does this sound familiar?

Many asset managers will have done something similar.  The objective would be to improve performance, at the lowest sustainable cost, while keeping an eye on risk. A cross-functional team would be brought together.  They would spend time developing the asset strategy.  At the end, like the British cycling team, they will have come up with a list of strategy actions including some re-design, time-based and condition-based activities, that when done well, would achieve improvements in opportunity, cost, risk, and performance.

Then what?

The Dave Brailsford story wouldn’t have been told if the focus was on the strategy and how it was developed.  The story became known for the execution and monitoring of the strategy.  Brailsford leveraged the aggregation of marginal gains.  Brailsford was relentless when it came to monitoring for effectiveness, watching for emerging threats, and continually incorporating hundreds of small additional improvements over time.

We convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action – James Clear, Atomic Habits


As an asset management professional, you’ve broken down everything that goes into preserving the function and reliability of a critical asset.  The question to ask yourself is have you moved beyond ‘development’ of the asset strategy and ‘actualized’ all the little things that, in aggregate, generate significant business value.  Learn how you can operationalize the efforts you’ve invested in your asset strategies by connecting with us here.