See it, Say it, Fix it.

Team Principal, Toto Wolff, is regarded as one of the best team principals Formula One has ever seen. He is a self-admitted stickler for even the smallest details.

When he first visited the team’s factory in Brackley, England, he walked into the lobby and sat down to wait for the team principal he would come to replace. “On the table were a crumpled Daily Mail newspaper from the week before and two old paper coffee cups. I went up to the office to meet him, and at the end of our conversation, I said, ‘I look forward to working together. But just one thing – that reception area doesn’t say “F1”, and that’s where it needs to start if we want to win.’ He said, ‘It’s the engineering that makes us win,’ and I replied, ‘No, it’s the attitude. It all starts with an attention to detail.’”

If you’re an OSA member, well-versed in the importance of Critical Non-Essentials, you’ll not be surprised to hear that Wolff, while required to lead 1,800 people, including an elite group of drivers, the engineers, mechanics, and more, is also obsessed with the cleanliness of the toilets, going so far as hiring a full-time hygiene manager who now travels with the team. This interest in granular level of detail is done with a clear goal – to set the highest possible standards throughout the organisation, to send a message that no job is too small for even the highest-ranking executive, and to highlight that every single team member plays a part in Mercedes’s performance.

Does it work? Mercedes has dominated Formula One over the past decade, putting together the longest winning streak the sport has ever seen. During the last eight years, the team won nearly seven of every ten Grand Prix races it competed in – a staggering feat.

In a recent interview, Wolff said “I don’t run racing cars. I run people that run racing cars.” He seeks to make his organisation a people-centred one, and he genuinely cares about the individuals he works with. The same is true for you and I – you don’t run an opticians. You run the people who run an opticians. Clarity about this is critical so you can devote enough time to supporting and leading and developing your people. And doing it with the right mindset.

Wolff fosters an open no-blame culture. “I want the organisation to be one in which people feel safe speaking up. We live by the mantra See it, Say it, Fix it.”

That’s powerful. No one person, whether owner, leader or manager, can see everything going on in your practice. But it all matters because it all is connected to what a client or patient is going to experience, and how good a job the practice does for everyone. To really take care of the details, and get them right, consistently every day, you need everyone on your team speaking up. Everybody needs to See it, Say it, Fix it and do it without blame. I taught my team this years ago with Paddi Lund’s rule “Don’t blame a person. Fix a system.” Making it a reality is an ongoing, life-long endeavour. But I think See it, Say it, Fix it is a brilliant mantra to adopt in your practice and mine.