Formula 1 cars are not built from standard parts. The engine supplier designs, manufactures and provides the actual engine – but everything else, every screw, nut and washer, is designed and made by the team. They have a plan for the car and every component is on the plan and is made, checked, tested according to the plan – and then transported around the world.
A F1 car has approximately 80,000 components and the engine revs about three times faster than the average road car. To achieve 18,000 rpm the piston needs to travel up and down 300 times per second. The carbon brake discs have an operating temperature of 1,000°. The car contains over 100 sensors and around 1 km of cable.
That means that 99.9% accuracy means that 80 parts aren’t working properly! Even one failure can end the race.
What has this got to do with your business?
Every business needs thousands of separate actions that must be done consistently and accurately to achieve and sustain success. When your business is moving at full speed, you can’t start tinkering and making adjustments – any more than an F1 engineer can repair the car when it’s travelling at 300km/h. The leader needs to be sure that everyone has done their job before the car begins the race.
As the leader of the business, you cannot be everywhere at once. You can’t check everything, talk to every customer or supplier – there just aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s not your job.
That’s why you need a plan and the processes that support it – and it all needs to be detailed and understood so there aren’t any bits missed before the car gets on to the grid. Everyone in the team needs to know, understand and own the plan.
Add the inspiration
As an inspiring leader your job is to ensure your team have the skills they need to execute the plan and are confidence that they will be supported to make the decisions needed when they arise.
This confidence about what is right is the factor that will develop a world class business. The leader’s job is to ensure that every member of the team knows that they play a critical part in achieving success. Everyone is important and has a critical role – and if they’re not contributing you won’t win the race.
That’s why a visible plan is so important. It details every step, every piece of equipment needed, every person’s role and the outcomes expected of them. Your role is to create a culture that allows people to use their eyes, their ears and their common sense – and that 5% of genius we all have – to ensure that every detail is attended to without fail.
Walking the talk
If you want to be a world class business, everyone in the team must share that vision and be committed to their part in achieving it. In other words, they need to take it seriously.
A committed member of an inspired team never misses a deadline (without a good reason, that has a higher priority in the plan), but also doesn’t ignore the small stuff. If there’s a small but critical task to do, even if it isn’t in their job role, they’ll pick it up and do it. There’s no room in a winning team for people with a ‘that’s not my job’ attitude.
As the leader that applies to you too. Be visible and approachable. Be seen to be driving the plan but be open to questions and discussion of the plan. Accept ideas, say thank you. Recognise that your actions and responses determine the culture of the business.
A plan gives meaning and purpose to everything and everyone in the organisation. It creates a way of working where everyone understands that they make a difference and every action they take is a step towards success.