After a recent speech I presented in Abu Dhabi, my host gave me a tour of the Formula 1 Circuit. It is an impressive development on Yas Island off the Abu Dhabi coast that passes by the marina and through the Yas Viceroy Hotel. With the Ferrari World Theme Park next door, Abu Dhabi has won pole position for many Formula 1 enthusiasts.
This visit inspired me to reflect upon some Formula 1 strategies and one specific insight came forward:
The Formula 1 Question
With efficiency as a core element in Formula 1, it is not surprising that many of the existing strategies revolve around this quality. However, the following story stands out and offers some valuable insights for brands.
One of the Formula 1 team leaders became famous for his consistency in asking one specific question: “Does it make the car go faster?” Whenever he was asked by the technical team if they could spend time on something, he would ask, “Does it make the car go faster?” If the answer was yes, then they could. If the answer was no, then they could not. The same went for any questions on investment and time management. In one simple question he guided operations, while reminding everyone of their main vision.
Beyond excellence in innovation, operations, and technology, successful brands have one key characteristic: their ability to adapt. They have ‘ an adaptive mental attitude’ and it is this mindset that sets them apart.
One of Many Questions
Most brands are more complex than a Formula 1 race and to suggest that there is only one question to ask, has a danger of being simplistic rather than simple. However, in my personal experience there is one question that needs to be repeatedly asked by successful brands.The context for this question is to do with the fact that brands have to deal with more uncertainty, more speed, and more complexity that ever before. And I believe this rate of change will only increase in the future. What will alter is our ability to adapt to this change. How our ability to change shape, to adapt, is one of the skills needed to overcome the consistency of change.
So the one question, of so many possible questions that brands can ask, the organizational Formula 1 question is: Does this make us more agile?
Adapting > Change
The only thing that does not change, is change itself. So it is our ability to adapt that will define our ability to deal with change. Our goal is to adapt faster than change: A > C.
I would like to make a note here that the ability of a brand to scale is also a quality of adaptation. Scalability is not separate from agility. Scalability is a subset of agility.
So before investing in new technology we can ask, “Does this make us more agile?” Before embracing a new strategy we can ask, “Does this make us more agile?” Before putting a new operational strategy in place we can ask, “Does this make us more agile?” If the answer is yes, then we do it. If the answer is no, then we do not.