What trainers can learn from Formula One racing teams


The world of Formula One may seem foreign to the learning and development space. However, there are some great correlations to be made for success in both spheres. Presenters are often in front of a podium and racing drivers want to be standing atop a podium at the end of the race. So let’s examine some of the key things that trainers can learn from Formula One.

1. Planning

Australian racing driver and motorsports media identity Cameron McConville says “the farther you look, the faster you go.” In Formula One, even before the season begins, a common set of objectives are defined. This will include selecting the driver and crew and developing strategies around which events to focus on, who is best equipped to drive, how the car should be set up, and how fast they want the car to go. Without a clear strategy, your Formula One team turns from contenders to someone that owes a bunch of fast and expensive cars. Likewise, if a trainer doesn’t possess a clear strategy for how to engage their audience, convey their messages and develop the competencies of their participants, they are really just someone with a captive audience, which they are unlikely to captivate!

2. Practice

Pit crews of all the teams involved in the world of Formula One consider practice as paramount to success. Realistically, their mantra is “practice, practice and practice again” until they can do a tyre change blind folded. Jonathon Wheatley, Team Manager for Formula One team Red Bull says that they “do about 1500 pit stops in practice and envision all possible scenarios that might unfold during a race.” This is great advice for trainers too. Put simply, the more we do it, the better we get at it. And the better we get at it, the easier it looks! Further to this, practicing for a range of variations and audiences will enable trainers to become more well-rounded and better able to manage things when something unexpected happens.

3. Timing

In a sport where seconds could be the difference between winning and losing, the pit crews in Formula One have transformed changing four tyres into an art of flawless precision. Timing is also something that can be the deciding factor in success for trainers. Many beginning trainers and trainers of new content source timing as one of the the most critical challenges they face in the conduct of their role. So what can we learn from Formula One that can be of assistance? Aside from the time refining that practice provides, here are some other tips we can learn from the sport:

  • Planned breaks: (Regular pit stops help to keep everything running smoothly and provides an opportunity to tweak or replace things that are not working well)
  • Defined time limits: (Set time limits for activities and keep everyone to them – although in the training world sub 4 second limits for activities may be ambitious!)
  • Bodies in Motion: (Everyone has their assigned job and the correct tools to execute the task. They come together as a team to bring about the final outcome. No single person has to do everything!)

4. Context It’s not all just about speed and strategy either when it comes to Formula One. There needs to be a certain understanding of the “personality” and characteristics of each track. This helps to direct decisions about the best driver for the race, the right tyres for the conditions, amount of pit stops required, as well as track positioning. The same is true for trainers. If content is king, then context is the kingdom and trainers need to ensure that they create the right fit for the audience and environment they find themselves in. So whether you are looking to be through the checked flag first or simply want to be effective in explaining a checklist to participants, the four areas of planning, practice, timing and context will put you in a winning position!

Marc Ratcliffe CEO, MRWED Group

Follow Me on twitter: @MRWED_CEO