Sunday, March 1, 2009

Know Your "Failure Certain" Factors

The following news clip below is part of the report from FoxSports online regarding Saturday's NASCAR race in Las Vegas.

“Greg Biffle was caught speeding on pit road, had another bad stop, and ran out of gas while leading — twice. Biffle ran out of gas as the leader, which put Hamlin out front. Then Hamlin was too fast exiting pit road, had to return for a pass-through penalty, and was too fast again and had to return for a second pass-through penalty. Hamlin's mistake gave Vickers the lead, but he coughed it up when he left his pit stop with a missing lug nut.”

Talk about the 1 Percent Difference! It turns out that Hamlin was still in contention after his first penalty but his second eliminated any chance to win. This was a race of mistakes, and like many sports it is the team, driver or player that makes the fewest mistakes that wins.

When it comes to auto racing we always hear about the car, the tires, the pit crew, etc. etc. These indeed are "Key Success Factors" which can make the difference collectively between winning and losing which is why there is so much time spent fine-tuning the things the team can control. After all the difference between winning and losing in NASCAR is often fractions of a second. What seldom is mentioned or considered is the "Key Success Factors" that are mistakes you don't want to make. These factors are the ones which will guarantee failure if you make them. I have coined the term the "Failure Certain" factors to refer to these and they are almost always the antithesis of your "Key Success Factors."

Now there is always that illustrious factor people love to refer to called "calculated risk" that comes into play. This is opportunity to make a decision which could fundamentally change the course of the race. The question then becomes what is the relative reward for success vs. the penalty for failure? In the case of the pass-through penalties the answer is aways that the distance made up from 1 or 2 mph for the distance of the pits clearly isn't worth the potential time lost due to a pass-through penalty. Because of this, staying within the speed limit on pit road should be a absolute must for the team, as it is a "Failure Certain" factor as illustrated in Saturday's race.

In another edition I'll talk about "Failure Certain" factors related to business.