Plan - Do – Review is a circular training philosophy that is used in Olympic sport (and in sport in general) to deliver constant learning and ultimately exceptional performance through the incremental development of skill, self-knowledge and car development.
As the name implies the cycle involves ‘Planning’ in detail for each event (test or race), executing that plan at the track, which is the ‘Do’, and then once it is over, ‘Reviewing’ your performance based on what worked well and what needs to be improved. The conclusions from the Review are then taken forward into the next Planning stage and the cycle continues.
A similar philosophy is the Japanese system of Kaizen – which is a Japanese term meaning "change for the better" or "continuous improvement." It is a Japanese business philosophy regarding the processes that continuously improves operations. The Kaizen concept proposes that there is no perfect end and that everything can be improved upon, people must strive to evolve and innovate constantly. Importantly it recognises that small changes ‘now’ can have big future impacts.
If undertaken in the right way this is an opportunity for you to separate yourself from your peer group competitors. It requires absolutely no skill just effort... so no excuses!
The planning phase of this process is focussed on ensuring that everything that might happen has been considered, prepared for and rehearsed. Detailed preparation should arm you with 80% of what could happen during a test or race – leaving you with 100% of your attention to handle the 20% that you are not expecting.
Of equal importance, effective planning should be part of the process of eliminating any doubt about how you are going to perform. You have set yourself clear goals; you have a driving plan for all conditions and a clear understanding of the Tasks In Hand that you need to focus on.
The planning phase should begin no later than seven days before an event to give you time to gather all of the information required and to then work on the areas identified as opportunities. Once the plan has been prepared there is no need to keep reviewing it, the purpose of the plan is to prime your unconscious mind, it sufficient to review your notes the evening before the event. The idea of planning is to calm the mind and to not make it anxious by digging over the plan time and again.
This is where you put your plan into action, you know how you are going to drive and race the car in all conditions and you have a setup plan for the car covering all conditions – effectively this will enable you to make the most of your current skill level.
The Do needs to be undertaken with a consistent and structured approach... a ‘process’. Testing, free practice sessions, qualifying, and races s are no exception, driving time is always limited and it is essential that each session is executed to a plan, de-briefed effectively and then built on in successive sessions.
Plan and Do are where we maximise our existing skills and try and retain / refine them at the track. Review on the other hand is where we identify opportunities to build our understanding of ourselves in relation to the skills required for us to succeed:
As with the whole Plan-Do–Review concept the idea is to help develop our Method, manage our thoughts and build our self-belief. Once an event is over its important to take the learning’s, good or bad and to clearly understand what you have done well and what needs to be improved. This allows you to mentally draw a line under the event and start to focus rapidly on what needs to be done.
When drivers have had a bad weekend and as a result, they don’t complete their review they can spend the following week mulling over what had happened (generally the bad points), they end up lowering their self-belief/confidence and more importantly they actually don’t get any positive training done.... they just ‘hope’ that everything will be better next time.
Ideally your review should take place within 24 hours of the event, a short overview should be written immediately after, as this will tend to capture the emotions you were feeling (this will give you an insight into your mental state during the event) but the full report needs to be completed the next day when logic will be the controlling factor.
Continually cycling this process of Plan-Do-Review will very quickly enable you to identify trends in your driving and this will help you prioritise your actions.