Dualistic Team

I’m putting together a plan for how to organize our team next year and one of my ideas is to have two semi-autonomous divisions, one for the business side and one for the technical side. My reasoning behind this is that although meetings for the technical aspect are subject very heavily to the restrictions of the season, meetings for the business aspect do not need to be nearly as subject to the rigors of build season. What do you think?

  • Alex

I would categorize 103’s team structure as what you have called “dualistic”. The manufacturing/programming/electrical/CAD/Inventor crew works in the shop and is headed by one of the engineering teachers. Meanwhile, in the art room down the hall, the PR/Marketing/Animation/Web crew work together under the direction of Mrs. Beck.

Splitting these groups works out very well for many reasons. The main ones being:

More freedom in scheduling between sub-teams

Diffusion of responsibility between team mentors

Students can focus better on the task at hand and really get involved in what interests them

Some of the problems that you need to be weary of include:

Disconnect between sub-teams (i.e. PR not knowing what’s going on with the design process of the robot)

Little to no understanding between students of what each student is actually working on

Some ways to alleviate these problems include cross-training students between sub-teams and ensuring all students are part of the design process early on despite lack of technical expertise. Many years, some of the best ideas regarding design come from PR or animation students. It’s important to get these students involved as much as possible.

Hope this helps!

My team’s structure is also this dualistic approach that you are contemplating. Our team is split with a build team (this includes all fabrication, prototyping, design, etc.) and a business team, which handles presentations, sponsors, and all PR. For our team, it works pretty well, provided that the captains constantly communicate.

As Brian mentioned, splitting a team like that does have its downsides. Sometimes kids have no idea what the other side is doing, and in that case, we do every once in a while have giant team meetings where all the captains give updates. But it is definitely more flexible to have a dualistic team. During the build season, when we (the business team) work on Chairman’s or the executive summary, we work off to the side in our workshop while they build on the other side. At competitions, the business team not only talks to judges and visitors, but we also try to talk to scouts rather than distracting any of our build kids. We also give the build team crash courses in our community outreach so they know what we do to a small degree as well.

Another thing to watch out for is making kids feel limited to only being able to do either business or build. While it usually works out that someone only wants to do one, we do make sure that our kids know they can do both, if they’re willing to put in the time.

Good luck with plans and if you have any questions about how my team works, feel free to ask! I’ve been a captain for the past three years, but I’m an alumnus now :slight_smile:

My team also takes a somewhat dualistic approach, namely with the difference that while we do split into a business side and a technical side, members are on a subgroup on each side. For instance, this year I did web design on the business side of house and control systems and wiring on the technical side. For the most part this also keeps everybody busy, since during certain phases of build there are some groups who are not as actively engaged. Those who aren’t actively working on the robot can be working on awards or some other necessary business task during build. This also means we can have everyone engaged in business related tasks during off season as well, since there isn’t nearly as much build work to be done.

I would also just like to add that we have a relatively large team. We’re not huge by any means, but we do have somewhere around 30-40 members, so this could very well be part of the reason why we can make this work as well as it does. If you have a smaller group, you may or may not need/have as much crossover as we do

694 also has this “dualie” thing, which seems to work really well during the season, because we can easily divide our attention. That means we can have a robot good enough to make Galileo elims while going to CMP on the Chairman’s ticket. The real danger is definitely what happens when the two divisions start to look like two teams. You need to make sure that not only is everyone aware of what’s going on in the two divisions, but also active in some way (even a tiny one!), so that your team doesn’t lose that unity. You also should beware the mentality that one division is “better” or “more fun” than the other.

1745 keeps a group system. I’m apart of Electrical/Programming/Cad
Then there is
ARM group
Chassis group
Chairmans group

It helps with organizing, but when things start to become tense between the groups it isn’t a good sign. For example, sometimes the chassis/arm group thinks they’re better than everyone. Elections start to become biased etc. So be sure to keep everyone happy/equal. Every meeting starts off with who has done what so no one is left in the cold.
This is all from a student stand point.

Most of the teams I work with are split like this.

Be sure your “business side” mentors join NEMO! www.firstnemo.org

During my time on Team RUSH we typically had students associated with the “business” and "build’ teams, but by no means were those lines always drawn clearly.

To avoid the disconnect between the teams some of you mentioned, we held weekly design reviews on a designated day where each sub-team, all business and build teams included, would put together a presentation to get the entire team up to speed on what that team had accomplished the previous week and progress on short-term and long-term goals.

It sounds like large teams can handle this pretty effectively. UPS is a small team (12 students), and so our “business side” is one student. There are “robot side” people who help her out when they can, but its mostly her doing a lot of the award writing, PR, grant writing, etc. Next year, she’ll be gone. I speculate that we won’t have a defined “Business” side as much as we’ll have kids doing their “build” duties as well as writing chairmans, organizing events, etc.

UPS, however, has always been small and never has had more than two full-time students on the “business” side of things…

Add us to the list of teams that do this. We actually do it physically - we have a classroom/computer room connected to a small shop with large windows in between. The manufacturing and prototyping folks spend most of their time in the shop, while the CAD, animation, web, media, and business teams spend most of their time in the classroom.

Just make sure that one half doesn’t forget the other exists! (Large bay windows and communal team dinners help to alleviate this :))