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3 min read

Formula One: a lesson in innovation, teamwork, and compromise

SL
Formula one podium

Every industry poses its own challenges, but few working environments compare to the pace and pressure of Formula One. 

Whether you’re a Formula One fan or not (and let’s face it - you don’t have to be to enjoy the popular Netflix show, ‘Drive to Survive’), most can appreciate how high the stakes are in racing. Speeding around tracks at up to 360kph, live televised events, not to mention the many safety and security measures in place. 

Under these conditions, teams need to be laser-focused on achieving one goal—being better prepared and faster than everyone else. 

In an industry with tight margins and even tighter regulations, agility, collaboration, and teamwork, along with a good dose of compromise, are crucial for track team success.

So what lessons can other industries and organisations learn from Formula One? Adaptavist employees (and F1 super fans) weigh in on what Formula One can teach us about the power of high performing teams.

It’s not about having it all, it's about having what it takes

Jamie Sawyer, F1 super fan and Managing Consultant at Adaptavist, honed in on how the ability to compromise, yet still succeed, is essential for racing teams.

“The budget caps put a very high cost on the failure of experimentation, which drives teams towards a "big design up front" approach. They also have limited testing opportunities available to them, and severe budget caps limiting the use of things like wind tunnels. Despite this, they mostly manage to succeed. While most businesses won't find themselves as hamstrung as an F1 team in that regard, the art of compromise is super-important, and often "by the book" processes aren’t that useful to anyone.”

Let your teams take the wheel

Business Development Representative and F1 fan Jovanka Jazic explained how vital harmonious teamwork is to the success of racing teams—and how you can replicate that success across any organisation.

“Without all of the Red Bull Racing team behind Max Verstappen, he wouldn’t have been able to become a world champion. Just like a Formula One team, businesses of all sizes can come together and find a set of solutions that help improve their overall performance and success. Similar to how a team of mechanics huddle together over a car when it comes blazing into the pits for a tyre change, software engineers can come together quickly and resolve issues quickly (but maybe not in 1.9 seconds). Being able to diagnose and resolve problems quickly and push the resolution into production is achievable.”

Driving high-performance advantage

Another huge F1 fan and Principal Customer Success Advocate at Adaptavist, Phill Fox, also spoke to us about the tight deadlines that racing teams face.

“Everything in F1 is done at speed. Tight deadlines are the norm. You have to have a working solution, there is no other option. The mission is to get the driver around the track as quickly and safely as possible. 

Teams are always looking at what’s next. High-speed testing, fail fast and move on if something isn’t bringing value. They balance the risk of failure against the chance of success. They also look at failure as an opportunity to learn and get closer to what they need to achieve.”

Jovanka Jazic also touched on the importance of speed for success. 

“In today's environment, speed and agility are essential factors to be successful in business. Sure, your business may not go 365kph, but you do have 365 days to impact the overall performance of the business.

When I speak to innovation leaders, I notice that deadlines often need to be extended. A roadblock prevents a project from being completed because there is a backlog somewhere in some pipeline. The great thing about identifying these blockers is that there are solutions that Adaptavist can help with. Adopting an agile framework would be a great option. Or even implementing improved tooling and processes to ensure that your Development and Operations teams run like a well-oiled machine.”

Build an engine room of continuous improvement

We also spoke to Head of DevOps and F1 fan, Matt Saunders, about the in-depth levels of testing and analysis that are key to racing success.

“F1 teams test new parts using computer simulation and scaled down wind tunnels to replicate track conditions. This is similar to a software delivery pipeline where it’s essential to provide production-like environments to test code that is as close to the real thing as possible. Finding problems early in the testing cycle allows F1 teams to deliver frequent and reliable change, and this is exactly what businesses should be doing to stay ahead of the competition.

Detailed monitoring is also an essential part of modern F1. This allows them to pre-empt failure of components, and to give quantitative feedback on the car's features to feed into the next design cycle. These are also desirable attributes of high-performing organisations, where proactive monitoring allows software teams to engineer better resilience into their systems. Organisations practising agile and DevOps principles take the metrics from monitoring to analyse software behaviour and performance, and feed those learnings into the product.”

Is your organisation ready to work more dynamically? Want to boost your agility and overcome the challenges of a complex digital transformation? 

No matter what stage you're at in your transformation journey, our experts are here to keep you on the right track. Kickstart your journey to agility with our webinar, ‘Developing an agile organisation’, or get in touch with us.

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About the authors

Sam Lesser

Sam is a Client Services Team Lead at Adaptavist.