Strategies from successful formula 1 pit crews that can strengthen your team and beat the competition.

    January 1, 2017

    Managers get their inspiration from many different things. Some read books by ancient philosophers and strategists. Others study top business leaders from around the world. Yet others are inspired by people they’ve met in the course of their careers.

    Regardless of where you seek your inspiration, thinking outside of the box now and then can open your mind to completely new aspects of managing. For example, did you know you can learn a lot about strengthening your team from Formula 1 racing?

    Think about it: while a racecar driver has to be highly skilled and completely focused, the one thing that keeps his car at peak performance lap after lap is how well his pit crew functions when he makes a one to four-second stop. In that very brief interval, the pit crew needs to change the tires, refuel, and make any other necessary adjustments to the car so the driver can not only complete, but hopefully win the race.

    You’d be hard-pressed to find another profession in which teams perform mission-critical work in such an incredibly brief period of time. And that means that if you study the strategies of successful pit crews, you can apply that knowledge to improve your own team management skills and as a result, help your company become more competitive. Here are some of the most effective strategies you can learn from Formula 1 teams:

    • Teamwork is key. During a pit stop, there’s no room for rivalry or discord. If the three people changing a tire don’t each know exactly what their job is and what they can rely on the other two to do, then there’s significant room for error—which could lead to accidents and fatalities. Of course, the chances that an error could have the same devastating effects in a management setting are slight. Nevertheless, mistakes always have an impact and can result in anything from missing a delivery milestone to losing a client.

    • Use communication technology to your advantage. One of the most significant factors in reducing pit stop times was the development of better communication technology that allowed drivers and crew members to interact remotely. Similarly, it’s imperative you provide a way for all your employees to communicate effectively with each other so the entire team stays abreast of progression, changes, and other developments. Business communication tools such as Asana, Basecamp, and Slack, offer an array of functions ranging from messaging and group chats to task assignments and document sharing—effectively allowing for real-time, nimble communications everyone can participate in, regardless of their location.

    • Leverage data to improve key outcomes. In his CXOTalk article titled “What Formula One Racing Can Teach Business Leaders,” Jeff Gilchrist describes how a successful racing team used data to improve its choices trackside, ultimately creating a tire optimization application. Companies today have enormous amounts of data at their disposal—but if you don’t know how to apply it to enhance your competitive positioning, it’s useless. As a manager, you need to pinpoint what kind of data is at your disposal and how you can leverage it to achieve or improve key outcomes. For example, if you’re looking to increase customer satisfaction ratings and you’re not using the data on the preferred communication methods of various demographics, then you’re missing an important opportunity to achieve your goal.

    Of course, there’s a world of difference between Formula 1 racing and most businesses. But with some practice and a competitive mindset, the same strategies that work for world-class pit crews can also help your team achieve winning results.


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