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Lessons for business from Formula One

City’s Cass Business School hosts intriguing debate with leading analysts
by

Formula One (F1) attracts fanatic followers. Its drivers are celebrities and it made Ferrari a household name.

Behind the glamour, the sport is estimated to be worth annually over $4billion and it continues to grow.

To explore the F1 phenomenon and to see what lessons can be learned from it, Cass Business School invited leading industry analysts for a panel discussion 'Competing in turbulent environments: lessons from F1.'

A packed auditorium enjoyed insights from panellists:

  • James Allen - BBC Radio 5 F1 commentator and Financial Times F1 correspondent
  • Gary Anderson - former BBC F1 technical analyst, now Autosport journalist
  • Nick Fry - former CEO Mercedes Grand Prix (F1)null
  • Dr Amanda Goodall - Senior Lecturer in Management, Cass Business School
  • Mark Jenkins - Professor of Business Strategy, Cranfield School of Management
  • Joe Saward - F1 journalist and blogger
  • Dr Paolo Aversa - Marie Curie Fellow of Strategy, Cass Business School, Event chair

The group highlighted the following lessons for business:

  • Clear objectives: in F1 this is easy - win races. Businesses need to ensure they keep firmly focused on what they are setting out to achieve
  • Total clarity of purpose. Knowing where every penny is spent helps achieve business objectives.
  • Change management: F1 teams are some of the most agile business units in operation. They are constantly looking for ways to develop and become better at what they do
  • Speed of reaction: if a team doesn't know how to do something, or something is wrong, they find out how to do it or change it - often in the two weeks in between races
  • Get the best people. Understanding data, high investments and strategy alone are not sufficient
  • Choose the best leaders with the right experience. Research demonstrates the best leaders have a deep knowledge of the core business. In F1, team principles who were previously drivers had a 16% higher chance of their team winning or scoring a podium place
  • Money helps teams to win, but often does not make the success durable. To make the success sustainable, constant incremental improvements help more than occasional big money injections
  • Diversify the business model. For example, F1 technology has been adapted to stream data from ambulances to hospitals so doctors can begin a diagnosis whilst a patient is still en route.

The panellists sparked a lively twitter debate, the highlights of which can be found on Storify.


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