Winning – the ability to out-manouever a competitor, to seize an opening in the marketplace or to avoid an imminent business threat – demands agility. That applies equally to business as to F1 car racing.
Imagine having a high powered and highly manoeuverable car (like a F1 car) and then putting it on a railway track! Just like in racing to be successful any strategy or plan has to allow for flexibility and agility.
Blindly following the course set out by a strategy is dangerous – especially if that strategy was set in a boardroom far removed from the realities of the marketplace, or set in the past (i.e. some 12 or 24 months ago).
Managers can’t pursue a rigid strategy from which they can’t deviate. Strategy should show the way, but allow flexibility in its implementation. It should be the road barriers rather than a railway track.
In business just as in F1, the driver has a race strategy – one that has been carefully considered – however he or she has to be able to respond to; changing road conditions, the moves of competitor, hazards and obstacles.
The reality is that things never go 100% to plan. Situations change and those at the front line need to have the room to manoeuver – adapt to conditions as they emerge – to recognize that things are not working as planned and to take action. That is what humans do best – adapt. Successful execution requires passion, skill, intelligence and ingenuity.
There is often a big difference between what managers and front line executives want from a strategy or plan. Managers want details and specifics – in short they want control. But what do you want?
Want to fail? Then stick to your plan. Research suggests that sticking to the plan rigidily is key predictor of failure!