The Tour

Cycling sprint

The Tour

The Tour de France is one of the most watched sporting events on the World sporting calendar. Every July we watch and follow the physical heroics of these professional cyclists as they battle the Alps, Pyrenees and each other for 23 days. In recent years the event has been affected by extensive controversy centred around performance enhancing drugs. However, that discussion is for another day as what is really fascinating is the physical performance and preparation of these (“clean”) cyclists and what can be learnt from it.

The “Tour” is the most important event in cycling and riders complete over 3500km in this multi-stage event. Twenty-two teams of nine riders race  with teams working for their team leader to secure victory. It is a true team sport where one person’s glory is created by the work of his cycling team mates, team managers, sponsors, mechanics, physiotherapists, scientists and the preparation must be perfected and monitored to the minute detail.

The concept of preparation, team work and monitoring has implications for us all. Cycling 3500km may be impossible for most of us; however we all have our own potential “tours”. It may be another sport, work event or even a social occasion. Whatever it is, you will need to prepare and monitor to perform effectively. How do you prepare for your “tour”?

There has been an explosion of books, podcasts and research in the area of productivity. However, are we more productive? The often missing step in assessing productivity is assessing or monitoring the individual from a physiological and psychological perspective. It is not possible to be productive if the human’s capacity is compromised. A cyclist in the Tour de France has real time data to inform them about their capacity but what do you have? Having an understanding of your “real time” physiological and psychological status will enhance your productivity and your overall ability to perform. There have been many errors made in the work place that could have been prevented with an effective monitoring system.

Interestingly, a state of the art transport truck has over 200 sensors sending back information about every aspect of the trucks performance BUT there is not one sensor monitoring the driver. We have a dashboard for our car and even our banking details but no dashboard for us. In recent times we have seen an explosion of wearable tech but this just tells us what we have completed rather than being able to integrate a number of data points to give an overall performance index.

As we marvel at the riders in the Tour de France, it’s important to think that what we do is just as, if not more important than winning a bike race. Whilst every cyclist in the “tour” knows exactly what physiological state they are in and than if they are able to make a decision whether to “attack” or not, it would be great for everyone to have similar information.

This information could help us adjust our work day if stress levels are too high or if our sleep was poor to be aware that our physiological functioning is decreased and some of our decision making may be compromised. There are endless possibilities, but as you watch the last days of the tour just think, are you worthy of having similar information?

People and Performance

I spend the majority of my time helping people to maximise their potential to perform and have been doing this for many years. In this time, I have found “monitoring” to play a major role in respect to enabling positive performance.

However, often people get confused as to what “monitoring” actually is. I think one way of  explaining this is to use the analogy of the flight deck of an aeroplane where the pilot can view data to ensure the plane is functioning to its optimal level. This data is generated by technology that “monitors” the performance of the engine etc and the data is illustrated in the dashboard.

My job is to know what data needs to be generated and monitored so we can be sure HUMANS  are  performing to their optimal level. The issue is that we “monitor” so many non-living objects very effectively but we do not monitor the living human on a regular daily basis.  

 Check ups at the doctor can be a “monitoring” experience with blood pressure and other variables measured but how is this optimising day to day performance? The regular daily analysis of important data is vital in maximising the performance of people.

What data is illustrated on your dashboard?

Do you have a dashboard for those that are working for you? 

Are you or your staff performing to their optimal level?

If we have regular data for things that we use why not have it on ourselves? It’s crazy that we have more up to date information on our cars than we have on the people driving them.

The most important asset we have is people,  however,  too often we put far greater emphasis on other assets than the Human. By the implementation of a monitoring system that collects, analyses and presents regular information we can help maximse the potential of people  to perform.