Nick Fry, Non-Executive Chairman of McLaren Applied and former CEO of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team
Having worked in the fast-paced world of motorsport since 2002, Nick's insights into Formula One provides a rare perception into change management, risk innovation and strategic leadership.
We recently spoke to Nick and asked him a few questions about his career, inspirations and his outlook on the future of the business world. He had some really interesting insights to share.
Get the best people, give them the tools necessary to deliver, agree clear objectives, accountability and expectation. Provide as much support to the team as you can and accept that if you expect extraordinary performance then mistakes will occur. Have a detailed action plan before and evolve a ‘no blame’ culture. Communicate clearly and frequently.
That being process driven and fast moving and entrepreneurial are compatible objectives. If you have a great team anything is possible.
It’s about the people first. Everyone says ‘people are our most important asset’ but few translate that into action. Humans will believe the story for a while but ultimately it needs to be supported by hard evidence. Good processes will handle 95% of the daily requirements automatically leaving 5% for focused attention - that’s the fun bit.
It’s all about belief and a culture of ‘we are all in this together and we either fail or succeed as one’. Everyone needs to their own job well but also help everyone else do a great job. Success comes in small steps and each positive step needs to be shared - communicate honestly and frequently. Acknowledge set backs and communicate why things are going to get better - credibly.
Don’t peak too early - this is a marathon not a 100m sprint. Take more risks. The question is ‘if this all goes wrong can I live with the consequences?’.
There were some pretty dark days in 2006/7 when the F1 team was under huge pressure on the track. A lot of great work and investment was happening behind the scenes but the results would not be seen for several years. Just keeping going was tough. I have been fortunate enough to have lots of highlights but 1st and 2nd in the Monaco Grand Prix in 2009 beating Ferrari into 3rd place was very special! Having the honour to work with Michael Schumacher was another.
Working with great people, winning and having fun. If it’s not fun then find something else.
We have barely scratched the surface of understanding technology, science and the universe. If you start with the belief that people working together can achieve great things then it probably will happen.