Monthly Archives: May 2013

What can Management learn from NASCAR?

What can Management learn from NASCAR?

I may as well start with a fitting quote:
“I have a lot to learn about NASCAR
but I’ve learned if you have the right people in the
right places doing the right things
you can be successful at whatever you do.”
(Roger Staubach)
“NASCAR Pit Teams and Quality Management”

I saw an interesting video in the past couple of days that really illustrated some important relationships to project planning, teamwork, management in general and 5S.

Any of us that have seen a NASCAR race probably watch in awe as the drivers pull their car in to the pit area for fuel, tire changes, and other necessary actions to allow their driver to get back into the race with the smallest of lost down time for these needed actions. The pit crew seems to move as if scripted from a play. Well, in fact they are. Pit crews, race teams and others analyze every action that needs to get done and ways to eliminate any wasted time doing them. Any errors or team members not completing their actions on-time can cause delay to the others on their team and can cause a loss to the driver.

Here are some things that I notice when watching these pit crews:
1) Everyone on the team knows exactly what it is they need to do.
2) The team also knows what order these need to be done in.
3) The team communicates amongst each other to let the others know how they are doing or if there are issues.
4) The team members know exactly what the target is for each task and the overall target to complete the project and get the driver back in the race.
5) The team members are specifically fit into the tasks that best fit their abilities.
6) They also practice and train on these tasks over and over until they are perfected.
7) They have all of the needed technology and tools to best do their tasks and to stay ahead of their competitors.
8) Only the specific tools that are needed to complete their tasks are in the work areas. This prevents looking for things. Remember, every split second is crucial.
9) Lastly, they know exactly how they did with regards to the task. Did they meet their time target or not? If not the review it to see what went wrong, so they don’t do it again.

It really is a thing of beauty if you watch exactly what is going on. Now you may ask- what does this have to do with quality management? Everything in my view.
How many times have we worked on projects or parts of a larger project and had no clue as to when our tasks were to be completed or when the overall project was to be completed? How many times have we had to wait when preceding tasks were not completed which caused delay to ours and the overall project?

What are some of the causes of these delays and failures?
1) Lack of communication
2) Lack of resources to actually complete the tasks
3) Lack of the needed tools or technology to perform the tasks most effectively and efficiently.
4) New technology that has not been formally introduced or trained on.
5) Inadequate preparation to identify all of the things that can go wrong and come up with a contingency plan in the event they do (or better yet a plan to prevent it from occurring at all).
These are all things that a NASCAR pit crew does so well that we can learn from. It seems simple in the NASCAR context and can be so simple in our world of quality management, project management and even other initiatives/ tools like 5S or setup reduction. It really comes down to knowing exactly what needs to be done, who is to do it, how, how long it will take and provision/ training on the best tools for the job and PRACTICE (training).

Obviously this is a simplified blog discussion and there are other specific tasks that need to be done as well. This is just a starting point to get you thinking, as is the intention of this blog article.

Here is to improvement.