Productivity of a F1 Support Team

With the recent Australian Grand Prix as catalyst, we thought we would flag another perspective on team work and productivity. F1 multi-skilled racing support teams achieve amazing results that are fascinating and inspiring to watch. In this video, we can see what a team of 20 plus can achieve when working seamlessly together.

The video occasioned healthy debate at Egan Associates. Does it showcase a perfect example of productivity at its best? Or workforce attributes reflecting the opposite?

View One – It is the epitome of Productivity

This is the perfect example of productivity because it shows how much can be accomplished in a very short time if the right systems are in place.

If we consider the definition of productivity as the amount of goods and services produced by one hour of labour and state that in this case the service being provided is the replacement of the wheels, the faster this occurs, the more productive the process is.

The service is provided at exceptional speed – around three to four seconds. Therefore it is exceptionally productive.

We have assumed the team are multi-skilled technicians, mechanics or body repairers who monitor multi-faceted vehicle performance throughout a race, guiding the driver when necessary.

One of the elements that enables the team to be so productive is the preparation that goes into ensuring the success of these short seconds. Each member of the team knows what they have to do and when they have to do it. They know what the other members of the team will be doing. There are no missteps that could result in lost time. There is a backup crew. Their work reflects best in class teamwork.

There has also been significant capital investment in equipment to facilitate labour productivity.

Naturally, the video shows a (mainly) predictable process. Yet there would be a number of similar recurring processes in the workplace. How many of them could be accelerated with investment in staff training and top of the line equipment?

View Two – It is the antithesis of Productivity

There are a number of problems with the above proposition.

First, we need to consider how many people (around 20) are employed to ensure the smooth running of the tyre changeover, as each additional person will add a multiplying factor to the hours of labour.

Could the changeover be done as quickly or almost as quickly given the various risks to success with less than 20 staff? If it could, it would definitely increase the unit labour productivity.

Then we also need to consider the amount of time the staff spend waiting for the car to come into the pit stop. Are they engaged with meaningful tasks during the waiting time, or is their primary work confined to the few seconds that the car is in the pits? If there are no other productive tasks occurring and they are being paid for the wait time, then we have to include the idle time in the equation.

Yet the goal is to win the race. Paying for a team with so many nominal redundancies to save crucial seconds may result in a highly lucrative pay-off for the promoters, hence the preparedness to accept best in class that has a cost/return equation well outside the norm.

How many teams exist like this in everyday workplaces? Are their principles worthy of noting?

What do you think?

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