Run your organization like a race team to gain speed and resilience

Be clear about what is essential

We don’t have enough time to do our work, but we fill our day with energy-draining meetings. We don’t have the information we need, but we are buried in emails, powerpoints, and reports. We are under pressure to do more work, but we are unclear about what we’re ultimately trying to achieve.

‘Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction’ — Mahatma Gandhi

F1 racing teams have a crystal clear goal and laser-sharp focus: win races and championships. After each race, everyone can see if the team is moving in the right direction or not. Team members know exactly how their daily work contributes to the overall success of the organization. And through their weekly ‘all-hands meetings’, they learn what is important and what isn’t. This ‘shared consciousness’ enables people to act from their expertise and role, without needing to ask for approval or align with others.

Redesign your operating rhythm

Now that we are all working remotely, we see many organizations trying to replicate their pre-COVID way of working into the digital space. The result: executives find themselves in an exhausting schedule of back-to-back video calls and an exploding email box, leaving little energy for thinking or deep work.

Photo by Red Bull Racing

Accelerate decision making

In times of rapid change, we need to steer more quickly. In the best case, everyone in the organization is enabled to act quickly and safely when there is an opportunity. But the reality is that people and teams often lack authority and are afraid to fail. We don’t distinguish between ‘reversible’ and ‘irreversible’ decisions. The result: we waste numerous hours in meetings to ask for permission, build consensus, and find the ‘perfect’ decision.

  1. make decision rights and guardrails explicit;
  2. distribute information and authority to the edge of the organization;
  3. celebrate noble failure;
  4. practice asking ‘is it safe to try?’ instead of ‘is it perfect?’

Reduce organizational drag

F1 racing teams can’t afford to be slow. To increase speed, they involve everyone to reduce the car’s weight and aerodynamic drag. They eliminate tenths of seconds when doing their pit-stops. And in the way they organize, they optimize to reduce ‘organizational drag’ by minimizing bureaucracy. It is the aggregation of marginal gains that enable long-term acceleration and success.

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Jurriaan Kamer

Jurriaan Kamer

Org design & transformation | Author of ‘Formula X’ | Speaker | Future of Work. Partner at The Ready