How can procurement learn from Formula 1 – part 2

We're continuing from ealier in the week with the comments made by the CEO of a leading Formula One motor racing constructor team. Here were some of his most relevant and interesting points from a business perspective.

Small things - advantages or problems - can add up to big differences in final results.  So perhaps surprisingly, a Formula 1 team is very egalitarian in nature.  Pretty much everyone, from design to maintenance to back office has some impact, and whatever job you do, it matters to the team and the final performance.  So the culture is built around that, and even the drivers need to be team players in order to maximise the chance of success.

When his team had to make some cutbacks, the senior team made sure there was a feeling of 'we're all in this together'.  Everyone flies Easyjet!  Will we see this spirit in the public sector I wonder as the spending reductions begin to bite?

You might not be surprised to learn that practice is key; the pit stop teams practice constantly both in the factory car park  and when they are at the circuits.  But I wasn't aware of the focus on what we might call 'organisational learning'. For example, before every test session there is a serious briefing - what are we looking for?  How are we going to get the most out of it?  And afterwards, the same approach.  Everyone involved sits down and, for as long as it takes, goes through every detail of what has been learnt.

The same applies after races - you might think that the drivers have a quick shower, then its off to chase girls at an expensive nightclub.  No.  The whole team sits down for an hour at least and goes through the race in detail.  And wherever the race was held, another lengthy team meeting is held on Monday back at the factory.

That really struck me as something we could learn from.  How often do procurement people plan key meetings or negotiations to any level of diligence?  Do we sit down afterwards and work out what went well or not so well?  I look back on my CPO career and think - not really. We rush onto the next activity and rarely stop to think about what we have learnt, and most importantly, how we could do better next time.

Anyway, it was a fascinating talk, and I shall watch Formula 1 with new interest in the coming season.

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