Being Dave

Last week I had the opportunity hearing a superb and inspiring talk by Mark Gallagher, a former Formula 1 manager. If you ever have the opportunity listening to Mark, I strongly recommend to not miss it!

Mark is fantastic in showing the importance of integrated teams and their impact on motivation, quality, if not championship (in its best and true meaning) by telling real-life stories from F1. Not this general “team is important”-blablabla on how it should be in theory. But truly experienced reality in an environment where competition and need for safety & quality converge at high speed.

One of his narratives had been about Dave, the bus driver. To make a long story short, on that particular day the team won the race because of Dave. How? Well, Mark is much better than me in very lively telling the whole story in every amusing detail.

But at least I dare to sketch the scene where in an extremely challenging situation for the team, where there had been uncertainties about the best race strategy due to very changeable weather conditions …

  • Dave the bus driver felt the same commitment and responsibility for the team’s success as the pilot or any pit team member, where
  • he had a quite pragmatic idea, and he unexpectedly spoke up sharing his idea to get the latest weather forecast by simply driving with a moped into the direction the weather was coming from,
  • he translated his idea into action, despite the fact that it had been refused as being silly by the team lead, and
  • after being clearly rejected again after his first attempt to report changing weather via radio while sitting in the countryside a couple of kilometers away, he took the risk of being fired because he knew that his action might help the team to win the race.

Finally, the team lead buckled, adjusted the race strategy based on Dave’s report, as a result of that the race was won, and today most F1 teams have their “Daves” out in the fields during a race.

This is a real-life story about being team by including everybody and gaining lived commitment … and win.

This is also a real-life story about a “silly idea” becoming innovation.

But first of all, for me this is an amazing story about courage.

  1. Dave had the courage to speak up and share his idea.
  2. Dave had the courage to give his idea a try despite meeting with a refusal by his management.
  3. Dave had the courage to directly exert influence on the race without being a member of the core team and despite being smiled at.
  4. Dave had the courage to adhere to his idea while encountering heavy headwind.

So, what do I learn from Dave, and by the way from may others who made a change in history?

If you are deeply convinced that something is going to make a difference … keep your tail up, fight for it, make it happen!

Neither the pleasers nor the skeptics are making a team the winner. The Daves do.

 

 

The courage to talk

Recently, an esteemed colleague was thanking me for “courageous openness” with a previous email by me.

I have been very happy about this feedback. But I was also asking myself: is it really courageous to address important issues by mail … if there also had been opportunities to speak?

Honestly spoken, talking would have been courageous, face to face, eye in eye, vouching for my words.
Writing email is less.

The smart “no”

You need to cancel something on someone but you do not know how? Well, there are for example the …

 

8 ways of saying “no”

  1. I would like to … but unfortunately I can’t.
  2. This would contradict my personal maxims.
  3. I would like to make an alternative suggestion.
  4. My wife doesn’t want it.
  5. I would gladly pick up later … but currently I am at full capacity.
  6. I appreciate your kind offer … but to my opinion even more is possible.
  7. I need to think about it.
  8. John can do it much better!

(by Darius Götsch in the German Movo magazine, issue 1 2016)

 

The smart “no”

To my personal opinion, the best way in any case is being open, transparent and honest and letting people not wait for your decision longer than necessary.

If something is going beyond your capabilities … clarify it. If you are fully loaded … say it. If you need time to think about … request it. If you have an even better idea … suggest it. If you have an ethical or fundamental issue … put it on the table.

But do not delay your “no” because you are afraid. Fear is a bad advisor. And in case you are concerned about the possibility of negative consequences of a “no”, promptly document your decision and the underlying justification with a brief mail (optionally with CC to your line manager and/or the project manager).

Be clear with your “no” and be clear with your “yes” without dancing around the cake. And most people will appreciate. Those who do not anyhow don’t care about your opinion. But this is a different story.