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> Improve Your Team Series: #13 The Microwave Effect and the 1% solution

Have you ever got angry with someone only to find out that you were at fault, not them? Well consider this, sometimes your team's problem is you, not them!

One problem I see more and more is what I call 'the microwave effect'. The microwave effect is the result of technology that has got us used to getting results quickly.

  • We want a meal so we microwave a pre-cooked meal.
  • We want to watch a movie so we download a movie in seconds.
  • We want a book so we buy it on Amazon and can be reading in just a minute or two.

But have you stopped to consider that your staff is not like a pre-packaged meal you can microwave to perfection in just minutes?

Here's one idea I recommend for people like you and me who are prone to trying to microwave staff.

Use the 1% solution. To do this, all you have to do is ask, "What little thing could we try to see if we can improve our team results by 1% this week?"

Now imagine that only one in four of the ideas works, where does that leave you, well with a 1% improvement every month.

Now, I know 1% doesn't sound like much, and it doesn't sound as sexy as 10% or 100%, but consider this. A 1% improvement each month equates to 12.7% in one year, 27% in two years, and 43.1% in three years.

A 1% improvement each month equates to 12.7% in one year, 27% in two years, and 43.1% in three years.
And the real reason why 1% is a great goal is:

  • 1% solutions are less likely to microwave your staff relationships.
  • 1% solutions have greater stickability than a grand initiatives.
  • 1% solutions generally cost little or nothing to try.
  • 1% solutions give permission to your staff to try new things.
  • 1% solutions are likely to come from the people who have to implement them.

So what is a 1% solution you could try? (Hint: Print this out and discuss the idea with your staff this week.)

Article by Peter Watson, of Impact Facilitation. Impact Facilitation provides innovative training solutions with a special focus on not-for-profits in NSW, Australia. You can find out more at

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