Coming from a very old team that is pulling itself out of a deep rut, I cannot agree more.
This is invaluable. Set goals.
In 2018, our most successful year since 2010, we set some relatively high goals based on simple, but high, targets. We had a deadline, we had a goal, and we did it. We got to champs, not through the waitlist, but through our perseverance and work.
As John F. Kennedy said,
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
Well, we build robots, not because it’s easy, BUT BECAUSE IT IS HARD. (And fun, but that’s beside the point)
We set ourselves a deadline, a goal, and a plan. Our goal was simple: Build a working robot that can play this game decently well. Our deadline was, of course, Stop Build Day. Our plan was uh… something along the lines of “Make it up as you go.” We succeeded in our most successful year since 2010, going to championships as a result of skill, luck, and hard work. (Wildcard as third robot on the finalist alliance AKA dumb luck)
However, I am not saying to go above your team’s capabilities.
Know your limits, and don’t try to go past them. I’m reminded of an article in JVN’s blog:
Look at the team in this story, but more than that, make sure you push your limits, but don’t exceed them.
In 2016, possibly one of our worst years as a team, we decided to try for everything, resulting in building a shooter that had some ridiculous idea that the ball was supposed to go everywhere but where it aimed (We barely ever used it), trying to climb (That got scrapped before it made the robot), and some sort of super-duper-get-across-the-defenses arm/intake. The arm worked, but barely. Our drivetrain was the most successful part of the robot by far, and it was the only thing we tried to build within our limits. Other than the drivetrain, we tried things we had no experience with, and we tried to build past our limits. The result? Rank 35/60 in one regional and rank 33/65 in the other.