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Neil Harwood
05 May 2019

F1 Pit Stops. Agile working from F1 to the real world

Increasing the chances of generating new and unique product segments
A crazy idea
I recently wrote about agile processes in the F1 industry and the benefits and by-products, that this can bring for standard, and perhaps even mundane processes. After publishing it I shared it with a German friend of mine who hates changing his tyres twice a year. After reading the article he asked, "through agile process, would it be possible in the future to go a drive-thru garage to get tyres for road cars changed in less than five minutes?". He also asked whether an entirely new sector would emerge.

I couldn’t answer that question but it was a very interesting idea and a great analogy on what may theoretically be possible through embracing agile working processes.
Measuring the pulse
F1 is an industry thoroughbred. It boasts proudly that it started using AI decades ago. It is likely that it implemented agile working processes back then as well. Agile working approaches (along with AI) are slowly being applied to other industries. In today’s fast-moving interconnected world companies need to make decisions more frequently and faster in order to remain relevant to consumers and stay ahead of the competition.

Agile research tools enable companies to obtain opinions and insights from consumers very quickly, within hours. This means that companies can regularly monitor the pulse of consumers just as sensors on F1 cars monitor the temperature and wear of the tyres. These tools help companies adjust fast to variables (such as competition) or unknowns (such as taste or attitude changes). However, in innovation focused companies new and crazy ideas can also be tested quickly to see whether there is an appetite for them in the market.
Anyone can test ideas
Agile research tools enables anyone within an organisation to test any product, branding or marketing idea. They generate fast results and are easy to use. Anyone from management, marketing, product development, R&D or sales can quickly obtain consumer opinion on any subject. More companies are moving in this direction in relation to tactical matters. Obtaining consumer insights for these decisions is being delegated to the respective internal functions or functional segment focussed agile teams.
The impact
How does this affect functions and consumers? Well, it might not be the most effective use of an Insight team’s time to research the optimal name for a new chain of drive-thru garages. An Insight team’s expertise is better utilised in generating strategic insights. However, the name might be a big issue for consumers and therefore the brand and product development teams. Agile research tools empower these teams to quickly understand which names resonates best amongst consumers and without input from the insights team. This allows the research team to focus on adding value elsewhere.

Other implications are that agile research tools help to embed a culture of innovation amongst a broad range of stakeholders. Therefore crazy ideas dreamt up can be easily and quickly tested. As a result there is a greater probability they will emerge on the market in some form in the future. After all in a few years from now ideas which may appear unusual today could quickly become a part of life tomorrow. And, you might obtain first mover advantage in the new product sector to boot — the equivalent of starting from pole position in an F1 race.
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