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Unread 03-30-2005, 10:48 AM
Freddy Schurr Freddy Schurr is offline
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Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

I see many teams in FIRST who appear to truly be a team. I would like to
learn about how some teams do this so well. If anyone has any best
practices or suggestions for how they create a cohesive team, please share.
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Unread 03-30-2005, 10:52 AM
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Arefin Bari Arefin Bari is offline
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddy204
I see many teams in FIRST who appear to truly be a team. I would like to
learn about how some teams do this so well. If anyone has any best
practices or suggestions for how they create a cohesive team, please share.
I would suggest you to take a look at those successful team and talk to their mentors to see what they have done. For example, you can talk to Beth from 1504 who is a former member of 67, she started off the team successfully. Also Barry Bonzack from 1604, who is a high school student moved to another location and couldn't stay away from FIRST.

... How do they do well? I personally think, they go out to the community a lot and spread FIRST as well as work as a team. If there isn't unity in your team, the outcome will never be good.
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Unread 03-30-2005, 11:22 AM
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

If you are talking about teambuilding I have lots of ideas (e-mail me) or better yet, if you'll be in Atlanta and are attending the conference, check out our session on Saturday morning - Team-building: Build Your Team Before You Build Your Robot
Kathie Kentfield, adult mentor
R.J. Sisca, student
Chris MacCoy, student
FRC Team 173, RAGE

Big or small, most FRC teams find themselves populated with a group of unique, talented individuals - many of whom are glad to work individually on their own projects. It can be a challenge to get everyone together for meetings, let alone to work together on tasks! In this interactive forum you will learn some teambuilding exercises and obtain tips for planning a fun-filled Teambuilding Weekend. Bring back some great ideas to develop your group of students and mentors into a cohesive team prior to the Build Season. Please come prepared to share teambuilding ideas that work (and those that don't work) for your team.
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Note: I am employed as a Senior Mentor by FIRST. The opinions expressed in my posts are wholly mine and not representative of the FIRST organization.
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Unread 03-30-2005, 11:48 AM
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jessjank. jessjank. is offline
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

The way you have worded your question leads me to interpret that you're not asking how to start up a new team, but rather how to make the team you already have more unified; truly a team. There are a number of things that can be done to do this and I'll try to best explain how my team goes about creating strong bonds and relationships between members and unifying the team as a whole.

Though part of it is really developed because of the people who make up the team and the roles in which people naturally take on, some trust and commitment between teammates and an overall cohesion can be established through holding various teambuilding activities. In previous years, my team has held learning style workshops, taken part in low ropes course teamwork training at a local Girl Scout camp, held team bowling days, and had numerous team parties. Members really need to get to know, respect, and depend on each other in order for the team to function as a whole and by holding such events, team members become closer to one another. The team also, every night during build season, has sit-down dinners together which provide a great opportunity for interaction and bonding between members who don't see each other for hours at a time while they are working. We request that all members be present at these events, activities, meeting, etc as they are essential to team cohesion.

It is an excellent idea to try to arrange for your team to have it's own homeroom, though it is not possible for all teams to do this depending on whether your team is based at a school and if so how things are arranged at your school. The members of team 103 see each other at the beginning of each school day throughout the entire school year because our school has allowed for us to have a team homeroom just as they have allowed for many of the sports teams and student government. While this is meant to provide easy communication between team advisors and mentors, it also lends to the unification of the team because of the enhanced interaction between all members. During that small period of time every morning, one gradually become exceedingly familiar with all of their teammates and develops strong relationships.

Another thing a team should consider is how much is it necessary for all members of your team to work together. Despite the fact that Cybersonics is split into three main departments (i.e. Manufacturing, Animation, PR/Marketing) and each of those then split into subgroups, depending upon what is needed to be produced during different periods of time, for the purpose of flexibility, the team has found just how dependent upon one another we as members are. For each department to function properly, it is essential for interaction between departments to take place. If this has not been found to be the case with your team, attempt to find ways in which your team would perhaps better and more efficiently function with interaction between members. Also, try to incorporate everyone on your team into specific tasks, such as the brainstorming process at the beginning of build season. While not everyone has engineering know-how and expertise, each individual definitely has something to offer and by making such a task a "team" process rather than simply that of a department or a few individuals, the entire team can feel that they have in some way worked together to produce a final product. By making so that it is absolutely essential for members to work with each other, the porducts produced aren't simply that of one department or group, but rather the entire team and in such a way members can feel unified in their efforts.

The main idea with all of this is to build a team by getting members to really interact and communicate with each other by working together and being in each otherís presence as much as possible. I hope this provides you with some help and ideas. Massive luck to you and your team!
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Volunteer/Judges Coordinator - Pittsburgh Regional FRC: 2007-11 | FIRST Senior Mentor - Western PA: 2008-09
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Unread 03-30-2005, 02:29 PM
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

I think there are too many teams that are run differently from one another yet are still truly teams for there to be just one way for a team to bond. Team 116 is mostly a democracy, we vote as a team on most things, from the robot design to the team button to which competitions we attend. Some suggestions people make are silly and get laughs, but all joking aside, everyone's opinion is considered valid.

Which brings up humor. Never underestimate the power of humor, sometimes you need to laugh, even if it's at yourself, and a team that learns when to take things seriously and when to laugh (and sometimes its both at the same time) can remain strong when times get rough.

Which brings up the times that get rough. I truly believe overcoming obstacles together really builds a strong team. All FIRST teams start off with the same "obstacle": how to build a robot in six weeks. As far as obstacles go, that six week time limit is a doozy! And then you throw in other obstacles such as snow days and lost meetings, and back-ordered parts, and changes to designs, and computers breaking down three days before animation is due, and any other bad luck, bad planning kind of a thing that can happen and the whole thing gets kind of chaotic. Getting past the chaos rather than giving up will bond a team and make them proud of themselves.

And the last thing I'm going to mention is attitude. The attitude team leaders set will make or break a team. Not to blame adults entirely, but I think the adults on the team, the mentors, the teachers, the engineers, etc. have the biggest impact on the team attitude, mainly because they are most often recognized as the "authority" figures. If you have a teacher who gets frustrated at every little set back you have students who will do the same. If a mentor throws up his/her hands and says "It's not working, I quit!" you have students who will do the same. If you have an engineer who says "It's my way or no way" you have students who will do the same. If instead they say "Well, it's a set back, but let's see what we can do..." and "It's not working, so let's try this instead..." and "Your way sounds good too, can we combine the ideas?" or other variations that are inclusive and positive you will have team members who are inclusive and positive (most of the time at least, there will always be moments of stress and frustration, after all, humans are emotional creatures).

And there you have it, my ramblings on what I think makes some teams more cohesive.

Heidi
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Unread 03-30-2005, 03:08 PM
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

There is some great information to be looked over in the White Papers on this.
See if anything there suits your needs.
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Unread 03-30-2005, 08:13 PM
sanddrag sanddrag is offline
back to school ;-)
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

A lot of really great teams have realy great adults behind them. Also, I would suggest keeping size in the 12-18 student range.
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Unread 03-30-2005, 09:00 PM
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Re: Need Help and Suggestions - Creating a TEAM

I would organize different positions for some of your members to hold IE Team Manager, Electrical Person, Mechanical Person. Strong leadership definitely helps. All those positions should be elected by the team and have clearly defined responsibilities. Always communicate between each other so you know what's going on between the groups this is crucial in the begining when you are working out a design for your robot.

During the preseason, hold workshops for your team members. Show them the skills they need, to be productive during the season, like wiring, how to put together a pneumatics system, programming etc.

A Team building activity would be fun. We played Counter-Strike one year which actually happens to be a very team oriented game.

If you don't already, sort your members into areas they want to work in. If they're not sure tell them that nothing is permanent and they can move around a bit if they want.
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