Are You Taking The Racing Line?

In motorsport, the racing line is the optimal path around a race course.  It is the quickest route to drive any corner and has three stages; turn in, apex and exit.

Before I was born, my father was a rally driver.  Years later, my father taught me to drive and I still remember and follow his advice about approaching a corner when driving.

“As you approach a corner, read the road conditions, calculate any risks, check your positioning and drop down a gear and as you commit to the bend and reach the apex of the corner, begin to accelerate.’’

Many drivers brake at this time, but this, is, in fact, more dangerous than accelerating out of the bend.  ‘’You get more traction during a turn when you are accelerating”.

Maybe this racing line is a very good analogy for businesses navigating the current hazards.

As my father said, in the racing line you brake before the corner, you get off the brake, manage around the corner until you hit the apex, come through and then accelerate out on to the next straight.

 

Have we hit the apex yet and are we ready to accelerate?

 

Might braking be compared to cost cutting and restructuring.  A well-prepared business needs to develop the foresight to anticipate a crisis, ie before hitting corner.  An unprepared business, like a novice driver, will approach too fast and must then brake deep into the corner, messing up their apex and their line. A well-prepared business is committed to the continuous improvement of its operations and its processes and thus can more nimbly handle itself through a crisis.

Exiting a corner (or a crisis) and accelerating out onto the straight, might be compared to maintaining your R&D spend, investing in your marketing and doing some really powerful headhunting to strengthen your team.   Passing the apex and accelerating, at the same time as your competitors are still braking through the corner and almost coming to a standstill, will give you competitive advantage and make it harder for your competition to catch up, even when they are, again, in a position to accelerate.