Driving success through a freedom to operate

Two topics have dominated this year’s F1 calendar; tyres and Mark Webber’s impending departure from the sport.  The tyres have been a source of endless frustration for all teams, with drivers complaining that the poor quality is preventing them from pushing their cars to the limit on the grounds it’s not safe to do so.  Judging by the amount of debris left on the track at Spa last weekend they may have a point.  For their part Pirelli claim that the teams aren’t managing the tyres correctly –  but if all teams have the same issue could it just be that Pirelli aren’t listening to what the teams need?

And what of Mark Webber?  The Aussie is one of the sports most respected drivers and his loss will be felt by both fans and the teams alike.  A tough but fair competitor he’s also one of the most honest and direct in a world that is besieged by a PR machine that underpins the huge sums needed to keep the sport going.  Webber’s rivalry with Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel is well documented with matters coming to a head after this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix when Vettel ignored team orders and overtook Webber to win the race.  Webber had the grace to let the furore die down but announced his departure from F1 shortly afterwards.  Red Bull could barely conceal their disappointment.

So what’s the point?  Whilst managing your documents doesn’t exactly match up to the anticipation and excitement of Formula 1, the notion of making sure your people have the right tools to do their job is no different.  Without the processes, IT infrastructure and support services your people won’t be able to reach their full potential, which directly correlates to the success of your business.

The second point is around empowerment.  Formula 1 teams have strict protocols around the team pecking order.  Cycling is no different.  But where would Formula 1 be if drivers were empowered to drive their own race?  Red Bull and F1 have lost one the sport’s top talent because it placed too many boundaries on its people in a highly competitive arena.  When someone broke the rules without consequence it was enough for the other to walk. What if Vettel and Webber had had the freedom to operate in the first place?  Surely both would have driven a different race knowing a level playing field?

Fortunately, businesses run at a slightly slower pace and operate in a less charged environment but again the principle is the same.  Set out your expectations, objectives and ambitions, create a level playing field and then empower your people to succeed using the infrastructure you’ve put in place.

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