There is a constant demand for innovation in F1 due to the incessant search for technological advantage.

Continuous Improvement

Innovating is concerned with continuously enhancing performance, through the creation and exploitation of new opportunities whether related to:

  • Product
  • Technology or
  • Process

Innovation is simply the search for new ways of doing things that improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of the organisation.

Most organisations are stifled to some extent in their innovation efforts by their formal structures but the informal structures within F1 teams enable continuous improvement to become part of the DNA of the team.

How continuous is improvement in your organisation?

Creative Space

80% of people will rubbish any innovative idea, so F1 works hard to create an environment that doesn't crush great ideas at source.

F1 leaders ensure that a 'creative space' is provided that enables their people to innovate and produce without distractions.

The establishment of a No-Blame Culture is also critical to the continual flow of ideas to improve performance. Isolating the problem from the person, allows problems to be resolved in a systemic sense without a need to blame an individual.

When teams struggle they typically go through a period of blame to explain the failure, but it is the ability to break out of this blame culture which often signifies a period of further success, as failures are anticipated, shared and openly discussed by all.

How eager to blame is your organisation when problems arise?

Speed of Innovation

Most organisations find it relatively easy to change incrementally because it fits with their dominant mindset. In F1 the pace of incremental change is far higher because of the flexible, problem solving and informal basis on which they operate.

Critical to the speed of innovation is the Integration of the design and manufacture processes. In F1 designers talk to production to find out how a part will be made to explore whether a design change might make manufacture easier, quicker and more reliable.

In most organisations people dictate their own production lead times and project timetables get longer and longer. In F1 the focus is kept on the required lead time, which sets the project timescales and then an integrated team approach makes it fit.

How rapidly can your organisation introduce a new idea?

Micro Scale

The F1 environment is more a case of Detailed Development than Pure Innovation due to the limitations imposed by the regulatory bodies, who are constantly seeking to limit outright performance in the interests of safety.

New ideas are still needed and as a result thinking tends to be on a micro scale, with lots of micro-scale innovations being combined to produce a larger, overall effect.

Truly innovative thinkers still thrive in F1 by being methodical, structured and inspiring to those around them. Really innovative project ideas still get generated but as the team knows it can never be 100% sure it will work, the team will always prepare a back-up solution.

The expectation is that everything is going to have some sort of problem, so the team anticipates being ready to either fix the problem quickly or change direction.

Have you exploited many of the micro-scale improvements available to your organisation?

Dominant Mindset

Innovation in F1 remains incremental, just at a much faster pace, occuring in discrete steps within a dominant mindset of I CAN IMPROVE/WE CAN IMPROVE and therefore it produces relatively predictable outcomes.

The challenge comes when the team has to deliver radical step changes in performance improvement which demands a fundamental changes in mindset. These changes are demanded when the competitive landscape is changing faster than the organisation's current ability to keep up with it.

The start of the 2009 season is a good example when Brawn GP introduced a 'double-deck diffuser' that met the regulations and delivered a significant performance edge. All of the other teams were immediately playing catch-up.

What is your dominant mindset when it comes to change?

From INNOVATION to FOCUS - Key Principle #1

From INNOVATION to ALIGNMENT - Key Principle #2

From INNOVATION to INTEGRATION - Key Principle #3


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