Tauber Institute for Global Operations’ Students Take Checkered Flag for Teamwork
ANN ARBOR, MI (January 24, 2012) -- The best racing teams need more than a fast engine and a skilled pit crew to win a race. Teamwork is essential in order to earn the checkered flag. Tauber Institute for Global Operations’ students spent a recent Saturday morning learning that a successful crew depends on communication more than anything else.
By getting their hands dirty lifting 75-pound tires and wielding screaming air guns, Tauber students left their comfort zones in the dust and entered the pit road of team building -- Stock Car Pit Crew Challenge. One of several unique team building exercises that Tauber organizes for its first-year graduate students, the challenge emphasized teamwork, shared vision and understanding roles and responsibilities in accomplishing goals. It is all done in preparation for the 14-week global operations projects each Tauber student will experience this summer at companies like Boeing, Cisco, BorgWarner, and Ford.
At the pit crew challenge, held on the University of Michigan’s north campus on Jan. 21, students were put in teams of four and each member was assigned a role as either the front or rear tire changer or carrier, or crew captain. Their task was to remove, rotate, and reattach the front and rear tires as fast as possible. Teams were allowed to regroup after each of four rounds to improve their strategy, technique, and time. Team members were also encouraged to help each other by passing on tips, tricks, and motivational pep-talks. The simulated pit crew atmosphere added to the intensity, with teams competing against each other for nothing more than glory and a chance to pose with the checkered flag.
The Stock Car Pit Crew professionals guided students through the process, and demonstrated the proper techniques to change tires in nine seconds, inspiring the students to go for broke in the final round. Amid some creative cheering, fist bumping, and laughter -- and a clearly stated goal of “Eleven flat!” -- Team “Maize ‘n Crew” took the flag with a time of 11:26 seconds.
“When your goals were very specific, you had better outcomes. Because when you quantify a goal and are very clear about what you are all striving for, that’s when you are the most successful,” said Diana Crossley, Tauber Co-Director. “When Maize ‘n Crew all said ‘We’re gonna get 11 seconds flat’, they reached that goal. They didn’t simply say ‘We’re going to do better.’”
From simply identifying individual strengths to motivational cheerleading, Tauber teams were encouraged to find their own ways to improve their times. In the end, the point of the exercise was to learn from mistakes, accept criticism from teammates and mentors, and set common goals. All of this helps to prepare students for their Summer Team Projects which take them inside Tauber sponsor-corporations around the globe. Tauber directors have found that by giving students these kinds of experiences, they are much more confident and capable when faced with real-world problems and decisions in their summer project roles.
“This is our seventh year coming to the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at U-M. Actually, this is the only college group we do this challenge with, and we find that the students are more enthusiastic and serious about winning than our corporate clients,” said Bill Eversole, former NASCAR driver from Chelsea, Michigan who is part of the Stock Car Pit Crew Challenge team.
By Nancy Davis