Saturday, October 17, 2009

IndyCar Mission Refocus

I appreciate the following admonishment from Osca, a frequent and valued contributor.
"Roggespierre--please don’t lose focus..."
Thank you, Osca. We shall press on in search of a Mission for IndyCar racing.

Citizen John has proposed one that is worthy of our attention.
Mission Statement:
IndyCar exists to provide a superior auto racing product for the avid and casual fan alike that is compelling, entertaining and fun to watch. IndyCar is committed to making every interaction a fan has with IndyCar an exciting, enjoyable and memorable experience.
I notice the following core components.
  • Market Segmentation: avid fan vs. casual fan
  • Customer Focus: compelling, entertaining, fun to watch
  • Reciprocal relationship between buyer and seller: exciting, enjoyable, memorable experience
Recall that our Mission Statement should indicate both why and for whom IndyCar shall exist. For guidance, we would do well to refer to our Vision Statement.

Vision Statement:
IndyCar shall be the clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States. At its core is the Indianapolis 500, an iconic American institution that shall transcend the sport of racing and be a worldwide automotive celebration.
In my opinion, Citizen John's proposal effectively addresses the goal of becoming "the clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States," insofar as it focuses on customers first.

Both Citizen John and BC have addressed the issue of psychological benefit to customers. Specifically, the pursuit of speed records has historically been a major selling point of the Indianapolis 500. Physical limitations being what they are, IndyCar is unlikely to have that particular inherent advantage going forward.

Therefore, I ask the following question. Was it really speed records that so intrigued Indy 500 fans? Maybe, but maybe not.

Might it have been the parallel notions of progress and human achievement that really drove the intrigue? These are powerful forces in the history of American Thought.

I would suggest that speed records were much more than mere thrill shows; they were a source of pride because they seemed to confirm what so many postwar Americans were inclined to believe was good and right.

Our Mission Statement should speak to the base passions, prejudices and values of "auto racing consumers in the United States." We should value innovation because it not only appeals to customers' passions, but also because it might enable the 500 to "transcend the sport of racing and be a worldwide automotive celebration."

Innovation can mean more than just spending money to go faster.



Friday, October 16, 2009

IndyCar: Seeking a worthy Mission

We seek a Mission Statement for the series that shall compete at the Indianapolis 500. The task of linking the existential (Vision) with the phenomenological (Action or Mission) is extremely difficult.

For example, it is one thing to write that, "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." It is quite another to incorporate those assumed truths into actionable law that is intended to govern present and future behavior.

That is why it is my humble opinion that Gouverneur Morris is among the more underrated Founding Fathers of the United States. He drafted one of the most meaningful and eloquent Mission Statements that I have had the privilege to have read.

John Locke and Thomas Paine provided the Founders an idealistic conception of what they wanted the United States of America to be; Morris brilliantly prescribed what it was that the new nation would do. Equally important, he did so without imposing his own prejudices on future actors.

Let us review his masterpiece and observe the ways in which he crafted a Mission Statement that was both meaningful and flexible. Let us also admire the central position that he bestowed upon customers - The People.

I shall present Morris's words line-by-line so that the profound impact of each point might be better observed.
  • "We the People of the United States
  • in Order to form a more perfect Union
  • establish Justice
  • insure domestic Tranquility
  • provide for the common defence
  • promote the general Welfare
  • and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
  • do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

Mission: The Who and Why

Morris made clear that it was The People who possessed the moral authority to act. We, too, must make clear that it is The People - customers - who shall empower IndyCar to do whatever it is that it shall do.

Morris presented six reasons that explained why The People acted as they did in 1789. What are the reasons that explain why our IndyCar Series will act as it will? Moreover, why should this organization exist at all? Why will "auto racing consumers in the United States" be better off for having watched or attended an IndyCar Series event? What benefits shall they glean?

Our intent is not to establish a National Constitution, but rather to create a National Racing Series that supports and augments an "iconic American institution." What are the base activities that we must always do - what must we consistently deliver - if we are to achieve our Vision? What are the values that shall guide us?

Product: The What and How

Our Mission is not our product; it is why our organization exists.

For example, we might all agree that IndyCar needs to bring back innovation. The question, then, is why? How might innovation benefit customers - The People?

This article is intended to provide clarification as we challenge ourselves to achieve a difficult task. I promise that we shall discuss specific product attributes very soon.

Human action is preceded by Will. We know why before we determine how. This exercise is no different. That is why we need a Mission Statement and, perhaps, a Values Statement.

I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions.


IndyCar: The Road Ahead - Mission Possible!

Congratulations! We have taken the first step toward reinventing IndyCar to achieve mass market acceptance. Please read our completed Vision Statement below and take a moment to think about its implications. Keep in mind that "IndyCar" is a working title for the series that competes at Indianapolis in May.

"IndyCar shall be the clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States. At its core is the Indianapolis 500, an iconic American institution that shall transcend the sport of racing and be a worldwide automotive celebration."

Mission Possible

We must now forge a Mission Statement. This is the first derivative of our vision; it describes the activities that must be done at all times if we are to activate our Vision and inspire a New Day Rising for IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500.

Again, I refer you to this concise summary of the difference between Vision and Mission from the Minnesota Department of Health. I suggest that we begin by proposing words that convey what IndyCar must do in order to be the "number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States." We do not need great detail with regards to product attributes. Those issues will be addressed soon enough, when we establish our Product, Place, and Price offerings in our Marketing Plan.

Mission is about core organizational purpose. We might also want to incorporate a Values Statement with our Mission. Management Consultant Carter McNamara provides a brief synopsis of Vision, Mission and Values here.

Allow me to present a few words that might get us started.
  • Innovation
  • Competition
  • Entertainment
  • Value
  • Unique
  • Efficient
  • Profit
We need not use all of the words above. They are merely a starting point for discussion.

The words that we choose to incorporate in our Mission and, possibly, Values Statements shall be central to our next task, the Marketing Plan. It is there that we shall begin to attack the details. Therefore, I ask that you present not only the essential words, but also the underlying ideas that make those words important.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

IndyCar: Completing the Vision

Our Vision for a New Day Rising in IndyCar racing is nearly complete. However, one final issue must be resolved. The Vision Statement is presented below.

IndyCar shall be the clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States. At its core is the Indianapolis 500, an iconic American institution that shall transcend the sport of racing and be a worldwide automotive celebration.
Muskie has suggested that we insert "...featuring open wheel race cars designed for competition at the Indianapolis 500...".

Should we incorporate this language? I am tempted, albeit with some reservations.

First, we might determine that the sanctioning body should enter forms of racing that do not include open-wheel cars. However, we have identified the series and not the sanctioning body in our Vision Statement. Therefore, I think that Muskie's suggestion could fit.
Second, we have had much discussion about the relationship between the 500 and the series. I quote VirtualBalboa.

"For a series to work and grow and prosper, the races must stand on their own."

I tend to agree. This leads me to suspect that to identify a singular purpose - that of being "designed for competition in the Indianapolis 500" - for our as yet undetermined product might be a tad premature

Rocketman53 believes that the Indianapolis 500 should stand above all else. Conversely, Trick Dickle believes that a strong link to the 500 is essential if the series is to succeed.

Might they both be correct? I think so. That is why I would be satisfied to leave the " its core..." phrase, also suggested by Muskie, intact.

What do you think?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IndyCar New Day Rising: Vision and Mission

Previously, I proposed a Vision Statement that might guide us as we seek a New Day Rising for IndyCar racing. The iteration below contains some cosmetic edits.

"IndyCar shall be the clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States. At its core is the Indianapolis 500, an iconic American institution that shall transcend the sport of racing and be a worldwide automotive celebration."

Yea or Nay?

This is the time to suggest changes and/or additions. If I do not receive any further suggestions in the next few hours, then I will proceed and use the Vision Statement above.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." - William James

I anticipate seeking suggestions for our New Day Rising IndyCar Mission Statement very soon. Some contributions to the Vision Statement discussion should be revisited when we attempt to hash out our Mission Statement.

If you would like to prepare, then I suggest that you read this very brief explanation of the difference between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement. It was published by the Minnesota Department of Health. I appreciated its brevity.

In summary, a Vision Statement is a conception of the optimal state of being. A Mission Statement identifies those Big Picture Activities that must be done consistently in order to realize and sustain the Vision. The Mission should not be highly detailed, but it should be actionable.

And so, we press on "As If" what we do makes a difference. Let us hope that Mr. James was right.


TV Viewers tune out IndyCar Championship

Allow me to interrupt the New Day Rising project for just a moment.

The television ratings for the penultimate IndyCar race of the season are in. The number is consistent with the others from the second half of the 2009 season on Versus.

Sports Media Watch has the complete story.

Here is how IndyCar racing compared with other Versus offerings of the past week.
  • Capital/Bruins NHL game = 405,000 viewers
  • IndyCar at Homestead-Miami Speedway = 268,000 viewers
  • UFL (new pro football league) 1st game = 205,000 viewers

The numbers provide still more reason to undertake the New Day Rising project. The IndyCar Championship race barely topped a start-up league.

We now turn our attention back to completing our New Vision for the sport.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

IndyCar Vision: It's Tougher than it Looks

Less than 24 hours into our New Day Rising Project, we have discovered that defining a comprehensive vision for the IndyCar Series is every bit as difficult as we had suspected.

I thought that the Vision should answer two questions.

1. What is the best that IndyCar can be?
2. How will we know when IndyCar is successful?

Readers and contributors have provided thoughtful and highly varied responses. Let's see whether or not we can establish some common themes.

Citizen John
"To be the premier auto racing series in the U.S. with the Indy 500 being the preeminent auto race in the country."


"To provide racing fans with the best possible open wheel racing in the United States.

To be the best possible open wheel racing means we will offer a varied visual and audio experience provided by a product that is affordable, attractive and available to fans at venues that encourage attendance in person and enhance the TV experience."

Roggespierre Commentary

Citizen John's submission is succinct and ambitious. I like it. Osca takes into account a very important constituency that has too often been ignored by IndyCar participants. That would be customers, racing fans.

I suggest that we combine these two submissions.

"IndyCar shall be the clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States. The Indianapolis 500 is an iconic American institution that shall transcend racing and become a worldwide automotive celebration."

There are good reasons to use the "number-one choice" language. First, why would a series that includes the Indy 500 aim for anything less? Second, we want demonstrable evidence of success that can be measured; "number-one" serves that purpose. Third, "choice" implies that we understand that the market is competitive. Customers have many events and television programs from which to choose. We must be their first choice.

Notice, too, that I chose to use "auto racing consumers in the United States" in this portion of the Vision Statement. This is important, I think, because the attributes that appeal to people in one culture are not necessarily the attributes that appeal to people in another culture. Because IndyCar is based in the United States, it must focus on cultivating latent demand in the U.S.

In addition, there are many, many people who will never like racing. Those people will do nothing to help IndyCar become number-one. I suggest that we forget about them for eleven months each year. That is why I focus on "auto racing consumers." However, we shall open our doors to the others in May.

Trick Dickle

"Your sport and series have EVERYTHING to do with the Indianapolis 500."

Mr. Dickle is right. But this creates a tricky proposition. Specifically, how do we retain and improve the "special" status of the 500 without making the rest of the schedule appear irrelevant?
That speaks to my final second sentence above.

"The Indianapolis 500 is an iconic American institution that shall transcend racing and become a worldwide automotive celebration."
Many people who like cars do not necessarily like racing. The Indy 500 is both a race and a spectacle that must once again be about cars, both those on the track and those in the Coke Lot. Indy must draw spectators, primarily from Middle America, for three weeks. A three week celebration of automotive innovation, technology and competition is therefore what I have in mind. Indy will be made special by activities both on and off the track.

The balance of the series schedule must be merely the "clear number-one choice among auto racing consumers in the United States."


Vision Statements come in all shapes and sizes. Two sentences might not be enough. Those that I have proposed might not be the right sentences.

We are not done with the Vision portion of your strategic IndyCar plan. There is more to consider in the Comments section below this article.
I welcome your feedback and additional suggestions.


Monday, October 12, 2009

IndyCar: New Day Rising

The day is here and the time is now. IndyCar racing is in need of resurrection. Empirical evidence makes that clear.

Thus, we commence a New Day Rising at the Indy Idea. We therefore redirect our focus from what IndyCar is to what it can be and should be.

We must begin at the top and then work our way through the details. The first step is to define the best of what it we believe IndyCar can be.

In other words, we must define our Vision for IndyCar racing.

Vision is what we shall work toward. It shall provide direction for every decision that we make. Vision will guide us as we attempt to construct an IndyCar Series that is truly great.

We must answer the following questions.
  1. What is the best that IndyCar can be?
  2. How will we know when IndyCar is successful?
I invite and encourage everyone who visits this space to post their opinions in the Comments section below. I will compile, publish and discuss them with you. I shall seek your feedback at every step along the way.

Our goal is to define, generally, "where" IndyCar is capable of going before we begin go examine "how" to take it there . This is the time for Big Picture thinking.

Vision: for your Reference

A general discussion of Vision Statements is linked here.

Consultants Anna McGowan and Jan Sykes explain the purpose of Vision Statements here.

Two examples of corporate Vision Statements are below.

Coca Cola

"To achieve sustainable growth, we have established a vision with clear goals.

Profit: Maximizing return to share owners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
People: Being a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
Portfolio: Bringing to the world a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipates and satisfies peoples; desires and needs.
Partners: Nurturing a winning network of partners and building mutual loyalty.
Planet: Being a responsible global citizen that makes a difference."


"McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile."

New Day Rising

Let us commence a New Day Rising of IndyCar racing. We do not know whether or not anyone in power shall either read or consider our proposals.

Nevertheless, we proceed "As If".


IndyCar: Angstadt Commences a Fool's Errand

The plan here was to be positive and constructive, beginning today. Unfortunately, the mouth of Terry Angstadt has discharged yet another fallacy, forcing me to lithely and temporarily change tack.

The IRL Commercial Division President met the media at Homestead-Miami with Versus President Jamie Davis alongside. Racer provides the details.

Angstadt again claimed that he has a title sponsor on the hook and that he is confident that he'll reel it in. This should be and would have been a positive development had Angstadt left it at that. But, as is his wont, TA kept talking.

First, he effectively explained that a title sponsor will cause Versus to be pleased to remain the cable television distributor for a racing series that demonstrates zero ability to attract an audience.

"We are very close to making that announcement, and that's not only important for our broadcast partners, because believe me, that comes with a big television buy, both on broadcast and cable.""

There it is. Who needs ratings when the league can arrange for direct advertising buys? It's not about serving consumers. It's about arbitraging corporate supply chains and financing your unwanted product with direct sales in other markets.

Unfortunately, Angstadt revealed still more harebrained thoughts about ways in which a series sponsor would allow him to raise the value of the IndyCar Series.

"But I think, more importantly, to allow us to promote outside of
motorsports is critical. That is where we will attract what we think is a
much broader base and raise the overall value of the series."

This is an incredibly stupid plan.

Helio Castroneves won Dancing with the Stars, one of the more popular programs on network television. He then won the 2009 Indianapolis 500, yet television ratings decreased.

Danica Patrick was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in both 2008 and 2009. She finished third at Indy this year, yet television ratings decreased.

If promoting racing "outside of motorsports" is a classic example of a fool's errand, then Terry Angstadt is exactly the right guy to do it. People who do not like racing will not watch racing.

Why doesn't Jamie Davis push Angstadt to fix his product? I already answered that question above. Versus will be satiated by cash money from APEX Brasil and the new title sponsor. Cash trumps ratings.

Don't expect Versus to demand an improved product that might actually draw a television audience. It has college football, the NHL and cage fighting for that. IndyCar is a glorified time buy, financed by arbitraged supply chains.

Meanwhile, the IRL will continue to chase event promoters that are subsidized by governments. "Festivals of Speed" will attract crowds that shall be deemed "phenomenal." Those new fans from "outside of motorsports" won't watch any races on TV, but Versus will be getting paid, so that's not a problem.

The racing and television ratings will continue to suck. The Indy 500 will continue its slow decline. Fortunately for the IRL and its teams, ESPN and ABC can still be blamed for the next two years.

Curses! These guys make it nearly impossible to be positive.


IndyCar: Barber Tickets on Sale Today

Tickets for the government subsidized IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park are now on sale. The road course in Birmingham, Alabama reports that it will build temporary grandstands to accommodate what is expected to be a "phenomenal" crowd.

Previously, BMP indicated that seating capacity would be limited to 30,000 paying customers. That figure has since been revised. Not surprisingly, a new number was not released.

We now know that between 3,000 and 5,000 temporary grandstands will be erected for the April event. If that in fact brings capacity to 35,000, then Barber would likely be able to hold the crowd that half-filled Homestead-Miami Speedway for the penultimate race of 2009.

Nevertheless, attendance at Barber will look good to the couple hundred-thousand or so who watch the event on television.