It’s not often Formula One and Paediatric Surgeons are mentioned in the same sentence.  Yet surgeons at Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children looked to Ferrari’s pit-stop team for inspiration to improve the efficiency and effectiveness when transporting patients into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) heart surgery. This is a perfect example of learning from other professions.

During Pit Stop in formula one, the team must work in harmony to change tires and refuel the car in 7 seconds. Time is of the essence and any delay (even of a few seconds!) can lead to disastrous consequences for the team. This is no different to surgeons operating and transferring a child recovering from heart surgery into Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The ‘handover’ is one of the most critical times and if the team doesn’t work in unison, death is a very real possibility.

One day while on a break, Professor Martin Elliott was enjoying some down-time watching TV. Formula One happened to be on, as the Ferrari driver pulled over for a Pit Stop. While observing the streamlined processes involved; it suddenly dawned on Professor Elliott that there were stark similarities between the surgical handover and the Pit Stop team. “There was a great similarity between the processes in terms of the need for precision, speed and the transfer of information from one team to another,” he said.

Shortly after, the team of Doctors and Surgeons visited the Ferrari team in Italy and observed first-hand the systems used by the F1 team and how this could be adapted to their team of anesthetists, surgeons and ICU staff.  The team of doctors filmed their new procedures and sent these for review by the F1 team – what resulted were new procedures and systems that literally saved lives and significantly reduced technical and informational errors.

Why I love this example – it shows the value of stepping outside your profession to gain perspective. This team of doctors was able to put aside their ego for the sake of improving their procedures and learning from lollipop men and the magnificent Pit Stop team at Ferrari. Learning from other professions – even if completely unrelated – can yield huge benefits. 

It’s so easy to get siloed in a job that you rarely look outside at unrelated or adjacent professions. We miss great opportunities to learn from other professions. It’s easy to state “20 years experience” on a CV or LinkedIn profile – but is it TRULY 20 years of experience, or is 1 year experience repeated 20 times?

By applying insights gained for other industries you will not only differentiate yourself, but give yourself the opportunity to make 10x improvements within your profession.

The possibilities are endless and I’m confident we all have our own F1 team out there, waiting to be discovered.

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