3 July 2012

Seven essential tips for success in VISTA

With registrations for VISTA 2012-2013 now being accepted, teams from all over the world are currently preparing. Some teams boast decades of experience while others are taking part for the first time. But there are characteristics that all successful teams share. We look at seven vital factors for building a successful team, and previous finalists share their tips and suggestions.

Choosing a well-balanced team. Building a successful VISTA team starts before you even submit your registration. When choosing teammates, each member should have a clearly defined role and field of expertise. Collectively, you want to have as much knowledge and experience as possible.
“Each person knows what his role is and the strengths within the team,” says Euguen Taylor, who reached the Southern Africa semi final in 2011 with his team The Bulls. “Team members should know each other’s strong and weak points, and therefore compliment each other to achieve a goal.”
VISTA questions cover a wide variety of areas, and whatever question comes up, you want an expert in your team who can lead the way.

Communicate. All the skills in the world mean little if you’re not talking to each other. This is a competition for teams, not individuals, and so teamwork is essential. Everybody needs to be working together efficiently.
“We have worked together every day for 15 years, so we know each other really well and don’t have to say much to understand what the other person means,” said Andreas Redl from Team Impact, VISTA world champions in 2009. “We have really good teamwork. What we did was to split responsibilities and two of us focused on searching through the information while the other two worked on the truck.”

Working with Impact. The ability to find information in Impact is a mandatory skill for succeeding in VISTA. Remember, it’s not only about finding the correct answer, but also using the correct method. Impact is there to help you, so use it. One of the most common mistakes in VISTA is for teams to cut corners and assume that they know the answer. But procedures change and Impact is updated regularly. Taking the extra time to check is often the difference between getting a question right and getting it wrong.
“The most important thing is not what you know but where to find it in the Volvo documentation,” says Arthur van der Westerlaken, of Dutch team Band of Bluekens, who reached the 2011 world final. “It is just a matter of starting right. Read very carefully and do what the instructions ask.”

Working with all systems. Impact is obviously important, but it’s not your only aide. For example VBS, Accessories information, Warranty systems, and so on. It’s also worth thinking “outside the box” and looking for information in systems that perhaps does not first come to mind. Overall, stay informed and up-to-date.
“You need to be incredibly interested in what you are doing. Then you need to acquire new skills and knowledge the whole time,” says Robert Svensson from Avesta Cruising Club, VISTA world champions in 2011 “If you don’t keep up with the new things, you have no chance in the competition.”

Practice makes perfect. Everyday you’re working together with colleagues, solving problems, learning new things and gaining experience. In fact your daily work is the perfect training session. “We think that the secret to our success is that we are busy with VISTA the whole year round,” says Pieter Bastiaansen, also with Band of Bluekens. “Every working day we get questions and problems that could have been VISTA questions. And it works the other way around as well – we recognise and solve problems easier because it once was a VISTA question! It is a big learning event.”

Invest the time. You will be given three weeks to submit your answers, so make the most of this time. Don’t leave it until the last minute. The more time you spend on the questions and checking your answers, the more likely you are of being correct.
“My tip to people participating for the first time in VISTA is to begin work immediately, as soon as the questions are available,” says Josef Mikula, from VISTA 2009 world champions Team Impact. “Make sure you read the questions accurately and in your answers you must be able to prove everything.”

Finally, learn as much as possible and enjoy the experience. It’s no coincidence that the most successful teams are the most experienced, simply because they learn from their mistakes and are constantly acquiring new knowledge. The whole purpose of VISTA is to train and develop, and every participant always learns something new. If you make the most of the experience and try to absorb as much new information as possible, you’ll not only help yourself develop professionally, but also make yourself an even stronger competitor for the next VISTA.