Tuesday 15 August 2017

Lessons in strategy from Formula One

I read a fascinating book recently all about Ross Brawn’s achievement in F1, how he sees the whole team as a system, and the similarities with running any large organisation.

Ross Brawn has played a major part in many leading F1 teams, including the winning streaks at Ferrari, Brawn GP and Mercedes.  Having semi-retired a few years ago, he has recently been in an the news again as he takes a place in the leadership team of F1 after Bernie Ecclestone’s departure.

I found it a fascinating book, especially as a fan of F1, giving a wonderful insight into winning in Formula One over the last 30 years.  And this isn’t just about winning a race, it’s about how to take a team (of up to 1000 people), understand the environment they operate in, and lead them to excellence in everything they do - drawing many parallels with running large and complex organisations.

It certainly seems like Ross Brawn is a “System Thinker”, with one of Adam Parr’s main observations of Ross as being that he sees strategy as a system - a philosophy from which process flows, a philosophy of processes.

Ross’s “system” included:

  • disciplined, structured and formal rhythms and routines
  • looking for systemic root causes using rigorous analysis
  • being on top of the technical detail
  • working alongside technical staff
  • looking ahead to prospective regulatory changes, and
  • seeking out wholeness, integration, completeness in both the product and the process of designing, manufacturing and racing.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how Ross Brawn brings his magic touch to the whole F1 circus.

Total Competition - lessons in strategy from Formula One
by, Ross Brawn and Adam Parr