The 1% Rule In Product Management

Recently, I've got obsessed with the concept called "Marginal Gain" or "The 1% Rule". The point behind this concept, is that small improvements that will be made frequently on any product, will be accumulated to a big change.

In the beginning of this year (2020), as part of the new year resolutions, I've decided that every morning I'm going to do 100 pushups, 100 situps and 5KM running. Every year before, I was promising to myself something similar, but each time I was failing to achieve it. This year, I decided to follow the "marginal improvement" method and to start very small and to grow step by step little by little every day. I started with 10 pushups + 10 situps + 30 minutes walking. Every day, I’ve added 1 push up and 1 sit up. With this, the marginal improvement took me 3.5 months to reach my target and now I can’t stop…


The whole story, started from an article that I stumbled upon, that told the story about the English cycling team. Until not long ago, the English cycling team was one of the worst cycling teams on the planet. They were so bad that sponsors refused to sponsor them because they didn't want their brand name to be connected with such a bad team. In 2003 an interesting guy named Dave Brailsford joined the team as its coach. He had an unique approach and he started implementing it immediately. He took EVERY element that had even the tiniest effect on the performance of the team and improve it by a very small percentage. With his guidance, they improved the bikes seats to be more comfortable, they tested different types of massage gels and saw which one has better recovery time for the muscles. They even tested pillows and chose the one which causes the best night sleep. They made hundreds of tiny changes like this and the result was that in the Olympic games of 2008, just 5 years after Brailsford joined, they won 60% of the gold medals available for cycling. 4 years later, in the Olympic games in London, the British set 7 new world records! Not bad, right…?

Dave Brailsford

You see where I'm going with this...Marginal improvement on your products can create a massive overall improvement in the product performance or better in your business performance. Now the question is what is the right tools and methodology to start with. Here is the recipe that I’m using:

1. Install Google optimize on your platform (assuming that you are using a web platform). When installing it, please make sure that it’s connected to your google analytics.

2. Take a small section on your product – Specific conversion funnel, Specific screen etc..

3. Decide what is the KPI that you want to improve (Bounce rate, Click rate, conversion rate etc.). Make sure that you know what is the current value of the selected KPI.

4. Brainstorm with other colleagues, what are the micro changes that can be implemented in order to improve the selected KPI.

5. Sort the list of changes base on expected impact on the selected KPI.

6. Go to Google optimize and create a new A/B test.

7. Create variant with the selected micro change and start the test.

8. Let it run for few days until you have enough data to decide which variant is better.

9. Implement the improved variant and go to the second micro test on the list.

10. Go back to step #4.

** Don’t run more than one test per section in the same time.

**You can check the statistical significant for A/B testing here: https://neilpatel.com/ab-testing-calculator/

The important thing that I would like you to take from this post, is to implement the 1% improvement, as part of your PRODUCT CULTURE! There is a HUGE amount of money that is currently "on the table” and waiting to be collected only by improving and optimizing EXISTING features. I would strongly advise you to stop the development race of new features as it's mostly waist of time an energy and focus on the features that CURRENTLY creating the income and optimise them constantly. Remember product optimization is never a "one-time thing”, it's an ongoing process of continuous improvement.



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