This is what it would be
If you were to encapsulate the essence of efficiency into one simple sentence, what would it be?
The Formula-1 Grand Prix motor race has something to teach us technologists, when it comes to our software and Agile delivery teams.
My one sentence will come…
The 19th of June 2016 was a special day historical day in Baku, Azerbaijan. The European Grand Prix Formula One motor race was held on that day. The race marked the 23rd running of the European Grand Prix of the Formula One World Championship. And first run ever of the Formula One Grand Prix in Azerbaijan. Lots of action, and lots of Drama that day on the tracks. Team Mercedes won that day with Nico Rosenberg, leading team Ferrari taking only the second place.
But there was something else massively impressive about that race, and what is far more interesting to what happened on the track that day for me, was the action that occurred off the track. I am talking about equaling the record for the fastest pit stop ever of 1.92 seconds.
Some say the record was even to a previous record from 2013 in Austin Texas, other believe it was broken in Baku, and this debate was never really settled. But putting that debate aside, for our sake we can agree that this sub two seconds result was enough to amaze the world and fans of motor racing.
It took well over a minute few decades ago to get back on track. But the crew and engineers found ways to achieve better outcome in less time.
To understand why a sub two seconds is so impressive for fixing or repairing a motor race car, one needs to understand the amount of activities that goes into such a single stop. The car pulls into the pit and comes to a complete stop, the front and rear jacks are fitted and lifted, the gunner loosens the wheel nuts, the first tire carrier takes away the worn tire and the second replaces it with a fresh tire, the gunner tightens the wheel nuts, the jacks drop and the driver pulls away. Each of these stages has to be completed before the next can begin. There is no room for mistakes.
So the planning, execution, and practice of the pit stop crew has to be brought to perfection. Planning, because every crew member must be perfectly seated in the garage area and have a well-practiced path to the car when approaching, to avoid any bumping into each other and loosing time. Execution, Take the gunner for example, tightening the wheel nuts too tight may cause loosing time at the next pit stop, but tightening too loose may cause the tire to pop off the car during the race. And practice, Because the crew needs to practice these sequence of events together as a team, so they can blindly execute on the day of the race.
Fast forwarding approximately four years later to Silverstone Circuit, UK. The day is 14th of July 2019. The 2019 Formula 1 Rolex British Grand Prix kicks off. All the big names and promising drivers come together to an event being broadcasted not just all over the UK, but all over Europe and all over the world. The big crews are attending like Mercedes and Ferrari, lots of action going on that morning, huge drama on the track, but one drama off the track.
The pit crew managed to set a new record for a pit stop in Formula One by changing four tires on Pierre Gasly’s machine in just 1.91 seconds. Just enough to break the record from three years back in Baku.
And the world of motor racing stood amazed once again, and so was the world of engineering that was pushed one step further to its limits with perfect planning, execution, and practice.
When time needed to condense and the exact same repair parts needed treatment, the crew found ways to cascade their steps smarted and achieve better outcome in less time.
Just two weeks later, Hockenheimring, Germany. The day is 28th of July 2019. The 2019 Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz German Grand Prix kicks off, marking this race as the 64th World Championship event. All the big names and promising drivers come together to an event being broadcasted not just all over the Germany, but all over Europe and all over the world. The big crews are attending like Mercedes and Ferrari, lots of action going on that morning, huge drama on the track, but one drama off the track.
You got it right! The pit stop crew have gone even quicker, and completed a full pit stop start to finish at Hockenheim in an incredible 1.88 seconds. Pushing once again the limits of engineering a step further, with planning, execution and practice at a higher perfection than ever before.
Fast forwarding once again four months ahead, to São Paulo, Brazil. The day is 17th of November 2019. The 2019 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix kicks off. All the big names and promising drivers come together once again. This event is being broadcasted all over south America and all over the world. Millions of fans are watching as cars stop at the pit stops and continue driving. The big crews are attending, lots of action, huge drama on the track, but one drama off the track.
And a new world record for the fastest pit stop has just been achieved in Formula one with just 1.82 seconds. Making this the fastest pit stop ever recorded till then, and from that day on.
The sport of motor racing exists since the early days, and so do pit stops. Back in the days when a driver came to a stop it looked more like a timeout in a basketball game. The driver was chatting with the crew and coach, discussing how the race was going, tactics for the next phase, and during this time the car was repaired to proceed. It took well over a minute few decades ago to get back on track. But when time needed to condense and the exact same repair parts needed treatment, the crew and engineers found ways to cascade their steps smarted, with less interference and achieving better outcome in less time.
That, to me, encapsulates what efficiency in software delivery, and Agile driven organizations is. Getting more, out of the same.
Getting more speed out of the same conditions, more throughput out of the same team, better results with the same rules and tools. Software delivery teams efficiency or Agile structured teams efficiency can be seen as increasing the output when the conditions and teams are the same.
Pit stops came down from nearly a minute to less than two seconds, in about thirty years. The conditions still involve a race car, a driver, a track, and a crew. Conditions and ecosystem didn’t change. What changed was engineering and process. For the pit stops what changed was better planning, execution, and practice. Allowing efficiency to increase over time.