Formula X: A book review by Bob Morris

Formula X: How to Reach Extreme Acceleration in Your Organization
Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen
Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press (January 2020)

Here are ingredients of the “secret sauce” of success

There are few business fables I hold in high regard. Most have a weak story and/or insufficient substance. Exceptions include the works of Eliyahu Goldratt, Patrick Lencioni, and Mark Miller. I also like Stephen Denning’s Squirrel Inc. but other bestsellers such as Who Moved My Cheese? and The One-Minute Manager, not so much.

Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen have written a book in which they use the business fable format to explain “how to reach extreme acceleration” in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.  I realize that in Formula 1 racing, extreme acceleration is essential to winning a race. So is down-shifting. However, I was curious to see how Kamer and van Solingen illustrate its relevance to a business world that is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous now than at any prior time I can recall.

The details of the story — KitchenQuick’s background, setting, key players, current crisis, plot developments, climax/resolution —  are best revealed within the narrative, in context. My own opinion is that the story doesn’t work [begin italics] as a story [end italics] but  serves as a somewhat Wobbly framework to support the information, insights, and counsel that Kamer and van Solingen share.

There really are some valuable lessons to be learned from F1 racing and don’t forget that it is a relatively small but very expensive business, with competing teams costing as much as $18-20 million a year and individual cars costing $2-3 million. Here’s an acronym for the ingredients of the “secret sauce” of success:

Focus and clarity: A compelling vision that drives those who share it
Accelerate decisions: Distributed authority that can make reversible decisions
Simplify (Einstein: “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.”
Team management: Saint Paul: “Many parts, one body.”
Elementary physics: Speed, acceleration, deceleration, and agility
Rhythmic learning: Create revelations with “a cadence of recurring interaction moments”

The recommendations in this book are provided for thoughtful consideration. Presumably Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen agree with me, however, that it would be a fool’s errand for a reader to adopt and then attempt to apply all of them. Invoking automotive nomenclature, I am again reminded that all organizations have an engine as well as a multi-gear transmission, an accelerator pedal, and a brake.

F1 team members and especially their drivers know WHAT to do and not do, WHEN, and HOW. The same is true of business teams that consistently achieve peak performance.

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