Success In An Ever Changing World

by : Jeff Earlywine

February 2003

Footprints and Monuments

“Success In An Ever Changing World"

By Jeff Earlywine

Well, it’s that time of the year again. No, I don’t mean the time of the year when the flowers bloom and the days get longer. What I am referring to is the sound of roaring engines and the waving of green and checkered flags. That’s right, it’s racing season!

Which brings me to my point; success in racing is always found in the ability to make the right changes at the right time. In racing, the person responsible for calling the right changes at the right time is [interesting enough] the crew chief. This crew chief position is much like an organization’s CEO, president, team leader, manager, boss, you. All these people strive for success, and the smart ones know when to make the right changes.


The best crew chiefs have as their top attribute the ability to get every member of their team pulling in the same direction. If a team has even one guy steadily complaining that the driver can’t get the job done, or the rear tire changer is performing poorly, or the jack man is just too slow, it’s trouble for the team and any crew chief who expects to succeed must put a quick end to this sort of thing.


A good crew chief also has to have a very good working knowledge of the racecar. He has to be a little bit innovative as well. He must have the mentality that allows him to feel that even though something has been done one way for years, it might be worth trying a different approach if the old one no longer produces results. The best crew chiefs are those that are open and receptive to change.

A racing team is going to assume the personality of its crew chief. People on a racing team must want to work for a crew chief because they not only like him as a person, they like the way he handles things. A crew chief must inspire confidence. He can do that through hard work and dedication — two things that will certainly rub off on those other members of the team.


Communication between crew chief and a driver is vital. Being a crew chief not only means setting up the race cars but it also means being able to talk a driver through a race. Crew chiefs have to really understand the inflection in the comments made over the radio by their drivers during a race to really understand how the racecar is running. For instance, when a driver answers “pretty good" to the question of how a car is running, it’s the way in which he inflects those words that gives a good crew chief the understanding of whether the adjustments needed on the car are a half round or maybe two rounds. It’s only over time that this communication between driver and crew chief gets refined to where there’s no doubt over what’s being said.

Are you a “crew chief" in your organization? Has success been determined by the changes you have made? The following is something that you may have heard, but it is something basic that we need to keep in mind when making changes.

  • If you make the wrong change at the wrong time you have – failure

  • If you make the right change at the wrong time you have – resistance

  • If you make the wrong change at the right time you have – low performance

  • If you make the right change at the right time you have – success