How to Get a Child to Intensive Care Fast?  Check Out Formula 1

By Shlomo  Maital  

                       CHINESE GRAND PRIX F1/2008 -  SHANGHAI 18/10/2008  Red Bull Formula 1 Pit Stop

    If you wanted to benchmark world-class best-practice teamwork under time pressure – where would you look?

   How about Formula 1 racing, where a pit stop to change tires can take …only 40 seconds (all four tires) or less?   Check out:

   In today’s Global New York Times (July 8:  Global Manager – The importance of being imperfect), Julia Werdigier interviews Jan Filochowski, who heads one of the world’s greatest children’s hospitals, Great Ormond St. Hospital, London. 

    He had a problem: How to transfer kids, after open-heart surgery, from the operating theatre to intensive care, super-fast (this transition is the riskiest part of the whole procedure).  Here is how he defines the problem, and his innovative solution:

    “In order to operate on the heart, we have to take the heart offline and operate on it for a while. It’s incredibly risky, and the riskiest time is the transfer from the operating theater to intensive care. Everyone had done everything they could to get that riskiest moment down to 9.5 minutes, but they were thinking that this still was too risky. Then one of the staff said, “Let’s look in a different area altogether. I love motor racing and Formula 1, where they manage to change all tires in a pit stop in 40 seconds.” So we invited Ferrari and McLaren (two Formula 1 car racing teams), and they came and looked at our procedures. As a result, we reduced our change-around time by another 1.5 minutes to 8 minutes. It was very exciting. It turned out that everybody needs a very precise task that they do without any variation whatsoever. By applying those techniques, we were able to do something that was impossible.”

    This is creative thinking.  Ask, how can we do this differently?  Better? Faster? Who can help us?  Look WAY beyond your nose, way beyond hospitals, to …race tracks!   Look for places where seconds are absolutely crucial (a Formula 1 race can be won by only a second or two). 

    No, you don’t need to invent the wheel to be creative.  Sometimes you just need to learn how experts change them.