Formula One is a sport that entails a lot of high-tech devices, machines, and automobiles. Teams mainly composed of drivers, engineers, technicians, aerodynamicists, and a host of other professionals, work assiduously to ensure success in the race. The amount of ingenuity and innovation inputted by the team goes a long way to determine an edge over other competitors in the race.
It’s no doubt that the game has garnered a lot of enthusiast since its inception. Recently, and surprisingly, the sport has drawn the attention of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.I.T., in a collaborated effort to execute a management program, which they have called the F1 Extreme Innovation Series.
Ben Shields, a senior lecturer at M.I.T., and head of the faculty for the innovation series said, “Formula One sits at the intersection of technology and management, and M.I.T. Sloan sits at the intersection of technology and management.”
“Our respective organizations are very much aligned in the type of work that we do,” Shields said. “Formula One comes at it from a different perspective, and we at M.I.T. go at it from an educational and research perspective.
The innovation series, which lasted a day, attracted top executives from across the world. M.I.T. professors alongside Formula One personnel engaged in seminars with these managers. The opening session of the seminars took place in Austin, Tex., in the Paddock Club, where executives were taught how to harness the power of workplace conflict to promote ingenuity.
Yath Gangakumaran, who is a director of the corporate strategy and business development at Formula One said that, for 68 years, Formula One has thrived as a sport and as an Organization, on innovation and creativity.
“Every week, thousands of workers at our teams are constantly seeking to innovate, often just to stand still.”
As the session went on, Rob Smedley, head of vehicle performance for the Williams Formula One team, with 17 years of experience working with Formula One teams, an example, his erstwhile team, Ferrari, explained how he had engendered definite conflict in the Williams Formula One team when he saw the isolation of workgroups in the workplace.
“We’ve got every kind of geek that you can imagine. You’ve got to bring all of them together and create this actual conflict, so we’re getting the best out of those people.”
Co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, who was also the chief speaker, said that there is some valid connection between Formula One and M.I.T. because both parties prioritize innovation as the mainstay of their respective organizations.
“Technology is key to having higher-performance vehicles, one that works better,” he said.
“My whole life was about being an engineer who can design things better than any other engineer. Even when I was in high school, I was that way, trying to come up with tricks that nobody’s ever done before that worked out into getting you more for less.” Noting how Formula One’s environment encouraged innovation, Wozniak added: “I’d fit in here”