Homeys. OMG. What a day. Seriously. Day job kicking my arse. I had a list with a bunch of "THURS" on it and finally got them all crossed off ... with a Sharpie. Extra authoritah from the Sharpie checkoff.
So, finally, I can DRINK, ye BASTARDS and represent on a few things, all of which center on the stunning fact tnat not everyone is an expert on everything.
News Flash: Becoming a Winning NASCAR Driver is Hard -- SHOCKER! It takes time to develop the skills required to win consistently in NASCAR. Not only does it take time, it takes some luck, and it takes having a good team, and about four other things.
Which, of course, brings us to Danica Patrick. She hasn't won yet. So of course she's a failure. That's the logic from some racing experts out there. I chortle a little, because I'm in profession that virtually anyone above age 8 or so can do: write. I write for a living. Writing, how hard can it be? Random 10-year-olds can write. Same with driving. Millions of American's drive every day. So driving a NASCAR is like driving on the interstate, only you just have a car that goes faster, right?
Beer spew. OK nobody goes that that lunacy extreme, but people seem to think that, like in the Ricky Bobby movie, all you gotta do is downshift and floor it and you pass everyone. Simple. Well, not so fast. Jenna Fryer hustled out and got some quotes are Danica's progress so far, in the context of her race at Kansas, including the kerfuffle with Landon Cassill. Read it here.
It's fair. It quotes Danica's Cup crew chief, Greg "Zippy" Zipadelli, about Danica's progress. There seem no debate that Danica screwed up when she tried to take out Cassill. Even Danica says she screwed up. Relatiavely inexperienced drivers screw up. That's part of it. But Zippy has some interesting things to say about Danica's progress so far.
People in general dramatically underestimate how difficult it is to drive a NASCAR or IndyCar. It's too bad the people who heap expectations on all drivers, not just Danica, can't get behind the wheel for a while. Or be subjected to the same kinds of expecations these drivers are.
Business Strength: Know What you Don't Know -- In a stunning revelation today, Curt Cavin of the Indy Star shot out a little story about IndyCar hiring some experts to help it form a long-term plan. Read it here. Human sacrifice ... dogs and cats ... living together ... MASS HYSTERIA.
I give this move a standing ovation. Why? Because crreating a long-term plan requires a special set of skills and talents. But mostly because I think talent is always a good investment. I assume the advisory group, The Boston Consultant Group, has done this before and comes well qualified and well recommended, etc. (Begin hillbilly accent) They sure do got a nice web site! (End hillbilly accent) It's not Chuck's Planning Service. And it's NOT cousin Bobby looking for a summer internship, gonna go out and stop every third person at the Indy mall and get us a strategy.
I suppose that IndyCar and IMS have hired consultants before, but I think there's been a gap between hiring and listening to. "Consultant" isn't a dirty word in my book. A physician is technically a health consultant, after all. It's good to consult experts, provided they are expert, which is always the most challenging determination. But, as with consulting a physician, the key is to take his or her advice. Because like physicians, business consultants who are worth anything will give it to you straight -- good, bad and ugly. And they might prescribe things that are hard or inconvenient. And you'll always have people who think they have better ideas than the consultants you hire. So a lot of consultation gets ignored, unfortuantely.
I have no inside knowledge to this IndyCar consluting thing at all, but I can see how the factors of IMS and IndyCar essentially being a family business AND the billions and billions of petrified layers of racing traditions and lore can work against a business consultant. You'll get people who still live in the 90s screaming "Hell, we don't need all them fancy suits! Just do what we did back in 1998. Fire them sombitches! Let's go have a drink!" Or maybe the consultant says Department B is full of inefficiency and ridiculous behavior ... but Department B is run by Cousin Eddie. You can see the landmines out there.
The very best thing IndyCar could do is put themselves in the hands of competent, high-power business planning consultants who bring objectivity, experience, expereitse and science-based approaches to the challenges IndyCar face, without all the baggage of tradition and emotion and "passion" etc. etc. Bring them in, give them the keys to everything, work with them and then come up with a plan and have the stones to actually execute it. Stick with it. Work it over time. Anyone who thinks IndyCar's return to healthy profitability will be either quick or easy is insane.
For the duration I've been paying close attention to IndyCar (since about 2000) it has suffered a severe case of corporate attention deficit disorder. Again, just judging from the outside, I've seen shockingly little discipline in making a plan and sticking to it. There has been lots of swinging for the home run and not enough grinding it out a base hit at a time. I hear everyone saying "NO TIME FOR BASE HITS! WE'RE DESPERATE HERE. END IS NIGH." Except I've heard that there is no time for base hits for at least five years now. Imagine if, instead, we had five years of base hits behind us.
Make a plan. Based on brutal reality. Do it right. Start getting singles and doubles, stick to it like a tennacious honeybadger.
Having said all that, what's the over/under on when these consultants get fired or walk away from the disfunctional organization, teams, etc.? I'd say three months -- and take the under.