Focus on Performance
Focus is the critical ingredient that distinguishes winners from losers in all fields of endeavour and wherever and whenever focused attention becomes diluted there will be measurable evidence that performance has suffered as a direct result.
Focus on Results
F1 is a results oriented business with team revenues ultimately being driven by race results. This is not a level playing field however and although every team wants to win, teams like Minardi in 2006 produced lap times that were 95% of the fastest team, Renault on budgets of less than 20%. For them survival at the F1 table was the name of the game.
In F1 the teams know they must extract the optimum levels of performance from every aspect of the business and to do this they monitor everything that can influence the desired result. They record every input and measure every outcome. The final result is very much the combination of all the details.
What will a winning performance look like for your organisation?
Focus on Timescales
The F1 environment benefits from an annual race calendar that is published well in advance, which serves to provide a series of immovable focus points throughout each year.
Each F1 team has to orchestrate all of their available resources to ensure that they arrive at each Grand Prix on the calendar (currently 19) with the most competitive race car possible, and then arrive at the next with an even faster car.
A team's performance standards have to rise week by week with the results of their efforts being viewed by a global audience. Undoubtedly the racing environment itself ensures that focus on what matters most does not become diluted.
How could your organisation use shorter timescales to keep resources focused on what matters most?
Focus on Measurable Improvement
At the beginning of 2009 Brawn GP were purely focused on getting their new car onto the grid at the Australian GP in March. They believed that they had a competitive car but due to the testing limitations imposed there had been little opportunity to assess their performance relative to the other teams. They finished first and second in the race and with increased belief set their sights on winning the 2009 constructors and drivers championships.
Although they had the fastest car in Melbourne the team's focus became "How do we make our car 1.4 seconds per lap quicker by the end of the season?"
Ross Brawn has master-minded all of Michael Schumacher's seven titles and his unrivalled experience helped him to focus all 450 people in the team on achieving a measurable performance goal that would enable Brawn GP to ultimately win both championships in 2009.
How might your organisation benefit by improving the focus on a critical and very specific performance goal?
Focused Decision Making
There is no time to delay when it comes to decision-making in F1. Like the racing driver who sees an opportunity to overtake opening up before him, instant decisions need to be made and those decisions need to rapidly produce the right actions to generate the desired outcomes.
"The only bad decision is no decision!" - Eddie Jordan
Frank Williams - Principal of Williams F1 - asks only one question when faced with an expenditure decision - "Will it make the car go faster?"
How much management time is lost in your organisation due to poorly focused decision making?
Focus on Sequencing
Getting the right job done at the right time is critical to overall team performance.
F1 teams demonstrate this best during a pit stop when upwards of twenty pit crew members are responsible for changing the tyres, making adjustments to the car and refuelling in typically less than 7 seconds.
In real time all of these activities appear as a blur of movement, but it is actually a carefully scripted and extremely well rehearsed performance, with each team member performing their task in coordination with the others. No words are spoken because it is too noisy yet task and process unite into a state of flow.
Back at the factory many sub-teams are seeking the next performance edge. 80% of the output from the Aerodynamics team does not yield a competitive edge but when they do the entire team shifts focus to ensure that the latest development is integrated into the car in time for the next race.
Could better sequencing generate better performance in your organisation right now?
Focus on the Detail
"The difference between the top teams is just detail really""" - Jackie Stewart, World Champion on three occasions.
It only takes one minor error in F1 to ruin the performance. A driver mistake, a loose wheel nut or a badly timed pit stop will cost even the fastest teams the chance of winning the race. Attention to detail is everything in F1.
1.5 hours after the completion of the race, when all the victory champagne has been consumed, you will find the winning race team engrossed in a debrief session where they identify every mistake that was made and explore any areas for improvement. Nothing is left to chance.
Where is the weakest link in your team's performance?
From FOCUS to ALIGNMENT - Key Principle #2
From FOCUS to INTEGRATION - Key Principle #3
From FOCUS to INNOVATION - Key Principle #4
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