Straightaway Speed: Getting Back to Work Faster

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Not too long ago, I had a career working in and around motorsports. I worked for an oil company very involved in racing technology and sponsorship. At one point, the company I worked for bought a race team. We used to say we and our product was “On it, in it and owned it.” We were a sponsor, we were a critical performance product, and we owned the team.

During my motorsports career, I found many variables contribute to winning on the track. The most obvious and important being speed.


Get in the Gas Sooner

I once asked a championship winning crew chief, “How do you create straightaway speed?” The straightaway is the easiest part of a racetrack to navigate. It is what it sounds like — a straight stretch where horsepower and aerodynamics are critical. If you can generate more power and less resistance, you go fast. That seemed simple enough. His answer added another dimension:

“Beyond just pure power and overcoming the basic forces of physics, if you want to go faster in the straightaway, get in the gas sooner coming off the corner.”


In racing terms, that means the sooner you can put the accelerator down coming through a corner, the faster you will go in the straightaway. It sounds simple enough but ask any driver, it’s not easy. Centrifugal force is what racers fight to maintain speed in a corner, without losing traction and drifting into the wall. They have to slow down to go fast. But not too slow. And not too fast. They have to navigate the corner, manage speed, manage traffic, race the track and not the other cars, and maintain control when the forces of nature and physics want to pull you into the wall. The talented drivers who can navigate the corners best are the ones who can “get in the gas” quicker — get back to full throttle, beating their competitors off the corner and achieve maximum speed in the straightaway.


Get Back in Business

We are in a “corner” in life and business right now. Lots of things to navigate. Lots of variables, many we can’t control and plenty of things we are juggling to ensure we don’t crash into the wall. As we take steps to “reopen” and get back into the “next normal” mode of operating, it feels like we’re all trying to figure out what it takes to get off the corner, in the gas and go fast in the straightaway — so we can get back to work faster.

Let’s face it, we all had to slow down the last several weeks. And, it’s pretty safe to say we won’t be fully back in the gas for a while. We are in the corner. In racing, corners are expected. They are planned for. We tune suspensions and race cars to perform in the corners. If a crew chief prepares a car to run fast only in the straightaways, when the road is straight, the throttle is wide open and maximum performance is the norm, that same car will perform terribly in the corners. We build race cars to maximum performance with both straightaways and corners in mind. Even then, track conditions, weather, fuel load and many other variables can disrupt our best laid plans and our superbly equipped race cars. Drivers have a choice: complain or adjust. Crash or create. Manage or mayhem.


Get Back to Work Faster

You can make choices now to navigate this corner and set yourself up to mash the gas when the straightaway appears. While some continue to complain about the impact of social distancing, the competition is coming up with a plan, maintaining control and setting up to launch when the time is right. Don’t be so concerned about crashing in the corner you neglect setting yourself up for speed in the straightaway. You can set yourself and your team up to get back to work faster.

ADVISA is working with organizations now through a Leading in Crisis workshop (90 minutes) for executive teams to help them realign as a team through the corner so they can get in the gas sooner and back to work faster. Executives learn a framework for building back to stability and gain access to objective data that allows for confident and fast decision making. The kinds of decisions that can make or break your straightaway speed.

To learn more about Leading in Crisis or to chat with a leadership consultant, like author Mikel Hartman, contact us today.




If you liked this post, you’ll probably enjoy this recent blog post from Leadership Consultant Brad Smith on “A Buffalo’s Journey Towards Self Awareness.”

Interested in reading more about leading during change or crisis? Read this post from ADVISA’s President, Heather Haas, on “Flipping the Script on Employee Development Post-COVID.”