Plexxi: Formula 1 tips for leaders and managers

InsightaaS: There’s been an interesting debate recently at Dell’s IT Solution Exchange forum on LinkedIn, and in the spirit of extending the discussion, we thought we’d highlight a post from Mike Bushong of Plexxi, a provider of SDN switches that “integrates DevOps and photonics.” In it, he uses an extended parallel between driving habits and managerial practices to show that “ground rush” – focus too close to the front of a car when driving, or on a series of short-term “firefights” – leads to poor overall management results.

There is a phenomenon common in many vehicular sports that occurs when the driver’s gaze is focused too near the front of the vehicle. With the field of vision narrowed, the pace at which the world around you moves seems to speed up. This forces you to act very quickly to changing conditions, which results in a herky-jerky driving experience. In race circles, this is called ground rush.

But the sense of a sped up world due to an unnecessarily narrow field of vision is not unique to the racing world. Individuals and companies experience this everyday in the normal course of leadership.

What is ground rush?

Probably the best example of this narrow vision is with new drivers. When you put an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of a car, the primary concern for the driver is keeping the car inside the lane. His gaze will naturally float to just beyond the hood of the car, and he will dart his eyes back and forth between the lines on either side of the vehicle. Whenever the car approaches one line, he will yank the wheel and steer the car the other way. When he gets too close to the other line, he pulls back in the other direction. The result is uncomfortable and likely a bit terrifying for the unfortunate soul sitting in the passenger seat.

Over time, experience breeds familiarity, and the new driver can raise his eyes slightly and navigate the lanes a bit better. With his eyes focused further down the road, turns are not surprises, and he can more gradually adjust the changing conditions on the road.

When his eyes go up, the field of vision widens. Movement is no longer framed by a small area in front of the car. With movement in the context of the overall landscape, everything actually slows down…

If we apply this same concept to companies, the feeling is the same even if the context is slightly different. Rather than framing up the rush around physical space and speed, consider the pace of the business and time…

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