Good goals to set as a team?

Hello ChiefDelphi

I am curious what you all think would be good goals to set as a team.

I realize this can be pretty team-specific, so if you only have anecdotes about your own team that’s fine too.

By goals I mean somewhat specific things the team can achieve, that team has mostly direct control over (nothing like “Hey let’s make it to Einsteins this year” - that is not under direct control).

Also nothing that is too specific to a competition, like “Hey let’s make a robot that climbs the airship rope in 2 seconds”.

The type of goals I am looking for would be things like “Hey let’s fully test the robot before bag day this year”.

I am also curious what you think a “good goal” is.

A good goal is one that is realistically achievable and can be objectively measured for success.

Agreed. Measurability is key. I also think that goals should be time bound.

You definitely have the right idea. Goals need to be specific, achievable, and within your control.

Each year, the team sets some goals over the summer. In the fall, I try to do interviews with every students have them come up with two goals just for themselves. They still have a hard time grasping “make it to world champs” isn’t a personal goal.

From a competition standpoint, I recommend selecting from goals such as the following (building upwards):

  • design and build a robot with the intent of being selected for regional playoffs
  • design and build a robot with the intent of being an alliance captain for regional playoffs
  • design and build a robot with the intent of being able to win a regional
  • design and build a robot with the intent of being an alliance captain at the world championship
  • design and build a robot with the intent of being an einstein contender.

Most teams are somewhere in those first 3 goals. My opinion is there are probably more teams that should be have the first goal than probably execute it (which is totally understandable).

The first goal listed above should probably really be re-worded in a way that is “don’t try to design above being a robot selected for regional playoffs” to sometimes help the team scale back and focus on the immediate tasks at hand - build a driving robot, practice, and potentially focus on 1 scoring mechanism.

Some non-field related goals might be:

  • Engage sponsors (invite them to an open house)
  • Add a sponsor
  • Add X mentors/students/teachers
  • Submit a business plan
  • Submit a chairmans essay

I will get back to you with more ideas.

Ask the question of why students join your team, and then set goals around that. If students join the team to learn CAD, maybe the goal is to train 5 new members one SolidWORKS! If students join the team to engage with sponsors, maybe goal is to recruit 2 new sponsors!

I’ve always had a goal of “Do better than last year.” You can use this goal pretty much nonstop until you reach the 254 tier of teams.
It applies to just about all aspects of the competition. Whether that is winning Einstein or being picked at a Regional, it depends on your team’s situation.

Learning to set goals requires practice. FRC is a great place to begin that practice.

Good goals are:

Expect your team, and yourself, to take the next logical step beyond what what was accomplished last year. Before setting the goal, look at your resources: time, work space, funding, skills. Take the boldest next step that your resources can enable.
[/li]Easy to explain, to your teacher, to your grandmother, to a freshman, to a sponsor, and to an FRC Judge.
[/li]Effort should leave a record that is easy to see, letting the data speak for you. No bragging necessary.
[/li]See “Understandable” above. If you can’t explain the goal briefly, maybe you don’t understand it well enough? Maybe it will be hard for others to understand? Goals with big impact don’t require much explaining.

I’m going to disagree with limiting goals to things fully within your control. Set a goal that inspires then come up with an action plan to complete it.

For instance, if a team has not made the elimination round recently it is completely valid to state your goal as make eliminations at your first regional in 2018. I’m not trying to split hairs, but if you simply state your goal is to design and build a robot with the intent of being selected … you still probably won’t be selected.

It’s the action plan that is within your control.


P.S. Richard, Are you saying good goals are D.U.M.B.?

The ideas you’ve presented are all on the right track. Here’s a slide for a strategy session I’m presenting on the 9th. Team goal-setting is even more important in a district system since consistently hitting just a couple of them can net enough points to earn a spot to Worlds.

Lol! I’ve head of S.M.A.R.T. Goals…but never D.U.M.B ones.

I like it!

A couple years ago, we did this on Team 696. We came up with the idea of “main things” that our team is about. Here are our four “main things”:

  1. Design and develop highly competitive robots that place well in the FIRST Robotics Competition.
  2. Connect students with mentors to provide deep levels of learning and unique educational opportunities in the areas of engineering, computer programming, manufacturing, business operations, graphic design, video production, teamwork, and leadership.
  3. Engage the local community by promoting and recognizing the value of STEM education in developing well-rounded students who are prepared for 21st century careers.
  4. Facilitate an enjoyable experience for program participants, in which students make new friends while developing soft skills and building self confidence.

Any things that do not fit into the above four “main things” are considered to be “other things” and not particularly worthy of significant investment of our time, since they would distract from our efforts toward accomplishing our “main things.”

In terms of specific goals, our student leadership team works with our sub-teams to establish goals in the beginning of Fall training. Each sub-team is responsible for developing written goals. We do a mid-training checkpoint where we review the progress made to date and refine the goals for the second-half of Fall training. Then we do final presentations and review of what we have or have not accomplished, and then it’s kickoff time.

In terms of overall attitude and culture, we have adopted the idea that we may or may not win, but it is important to try to win, though not at any cost.

While we always set robot competition and non-robot goals, we have also been setting goals recently regarding robot reliability. Things like: no more than two matches per event where the robot fails to perform its key functions, and no more than two major repairs required during qualifying. (This past year, we utterly failed on the first due to programming issues, and just succeeded on the second.)

Team Goals 2018
CAD more of the robot
Submit for 2 awards in Little Rock
Find another sponsor > $1000
Finish robot quicker to allow for more drive time
Build drive base early for software development
More 3d printing
More bling on robot
More bling on pits
2 off season events - Ozark Mtn Brawl & summer event before school starts
Build season - Home cooking on Saturdays & More food during the week
Update our web page at
Swerve Drive Development
Watch more Robot in 3 days

I understand your point and maybe I didn’t clarify my point well enough. My point is to use the goal to keep people focused on your priorities.

I think some teams don’t really think about what are all the roles that they could play. They’ll look at the game, see the ‘obvious’ solution to be good is to do everything - and not really think about how to build within their time, money, and experience resources. Basically creating a list of what priority your functionally should be. For instance if your main goal is just to make playoffs, chances are you shouldn’t even worry about fuel last year, worry about the climb or high goal I’m 2016, etc. 2015 was weird because you could have been a robot that only focused on getting all the cans superfast at the beginning of the match and do nothing else to get picked for some regionals and probably be 1) worthless during quals and 2) not able to do anything at worlds.

Competitions are a lot more fun when your team is not constantly having to repair the robot. This probably means that one has to aim for more a modest feature set so less time in the build season is spent building and more time is spent refining the design.

At GE, we were taught to have “Goals” and “Stretch Goals”. The Goals were non-negotiable and achievable (though they may be difficult) and we would do everything possible to meet them. The Stretch Goals included targets where some factors were unknown or beyond our control and would give us a quantum leap. We knew we would not be punished for not achieving the Stretch Goals which actually freed us up to take chances. In the end, we often found ways to achieve the Stretch Goals.

No doubt teams at the 254 level also have the goal of “Do better than last year.”

Eh, for the most part, I think this is alright. But it’s worth remembering that even in years where you do really poorly, you can learn a lot. In one particular year, I failed to meet most of my own goals, and I learned more from that year than any other (like how to set reasonable goals). Despite that year being one of our “worst performing” (in terms of regional placement) years, I think it was one of the most important years we had as a team.

Aim to have a rule added to the manual.

I usually start the season with the same set of prioritized goals every year:

  1. Everybody makes it to the end of the season with the same number of fingers, toes, and eyes that they started with.

  2. We build something that will pass inspection as a robot.

2a) Any robot accessories in this game also pass inspection (rope, minibot, whatever)

3a) The robot does what we intended for it to do.

3b) What we intended to do turns out to be a good match for the game.

3c) When the robot breaks, it can be repaired in the time available.

  1. Overall performance improves throughout the season.

  2. The robot functions correctly in every match.

I’d say achieving a large majority of your budget before the start of 6 weeks/competitions.

Definitely understand and wasn’t trying to nitpick your point. Robot role selection is obviously game specific. Playoff teams need to be reliable, consistent, and well practiced - at the role chosen.

I’ve done a lot of scouting and have many times been at a lost to figure out what some teams are trying to do. I believe Karthik’s description of a “science fair” robot on FUNalysis last night is the best description.


P.S. By the way, a “science fair” robot approach is a valid goal. Goals are very team specific. Dream big. Push yourself a bit.

Or push the GDC a bit. Interesting approach…