‘I love deadlines…. especially the whooshing noise they make as they go by!’ That’s one of my favourite “Dilbert” quotes about business but it flies in the face of what motorsport stands for. Motorsport is a business of hitting deadlines because it doesn’t matter what reasons or excuses there are, the race will always start on time…. Whether you are there or not.
Strakka Racing is a small motorsport company that cannot afford to miss deadlines. Nobody holds up a race if you aren’t on the grid. You are out, pure and simple.
Motorsport is an industry built around efficiency, which may sound contradictory in the context of today’s extravagant Formula 1 budgets, but the point is that everyone has to do as much as they can with the resources they have. Whether it be getting the most performance from a limited budget, the most mileage from a tank of fuel, the most laps out of the tyres or the most downforce from an amount of aerodynamic drag. Motorsport is all about maximum efficiency and this is where a lot of other sectors can learn from our approach. Other industries are not only transferring technology but also the skills off the track. Manufacturing processes even operating theatres are learning efficiency improvements from race teams.
Here are five ways we look to increase our performance on track, whilst applying those learnings to also apply to our business:
Invest in people and then forge a strong team.
If everyone pulls in the same direction it takes remarkably little effort. We’ve got some of the best motorsport engineers and mechanics. Many could easily work in F1 but we’ve tried to create an environment that will keep them in sports cars. We’ll get them to train together, practice pit stops and then all have some downtime together at the end of the day.
Communicate from the top of the business to the bottom and back up again.
Most problems are solved by understanding the issues from each person’s point of view. At the start of each race day, we get everyone to huddle around the car and talk about the day, issues, opportunities. Everyone can speak or suggest something. It’s an open forum.
“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” isn’t enough for any business. We all have to do more with less to succeed. At Strakka we embraced additive manufacturing or 3D Printing. At first, our engineers were sceptical but after trialling a few pieces, our mindset changed and we started a project to look where else we could apply the technology. It invigorates thinking to bring in a new technology.
Treat deadlines as deadlines and not as loose targets.
It’s the way motorsport operates as should all other businesses. We’ve set a rigorous plan for our next project. It meant we couldn’t deliver our original plan of an all new car but it is best to stick to a plan and deliver.
Start now; getting the hard work done early allows time for refinement and perfection.
I’m finding a list of ‘things to do’ pad by my desk and ticking them off helps me to prioritise actions and cross them off, one by one. You can get satisfaction by seeing your targets achieved on track or on paper!
One of our key motivations for getting involved with Xero was to adapt a more efficient way of managing the finance behind what we do. We need our maximum focus to be on our on-track activities to ensure that every time the car is running, it is as fast and reliable as it can be. The more efficient we can be with our accounts, our finance and our customers, the more we can deliver with our results.
So the only whooshing noises we hear at Strakka Racing are those of the cars travelling as fast as they can.