In my experience, the best motivation comes from understanding the importance of scouting. In the fall when scouting is explained to new members, we try to emphasize how we use the collected data and how it affects our entire competition. It’s nice to recognize your scouts after every event and reassure them that their work is appreciated. After event wins, explain how their data specifically contributed. For example, we ranked 1st at the Smoky Mountains Regional and got our top pick vault bot (4306) as our second pick. We made sure the team knew that scouting is what found us a winning alliance.
Not all teams do this, but our scouting system does real-time analysis through Google Sheets on all our data throughout competition. As the drive coach, I use our scouting system’s analysis sheets before every qualification matches and every playoff matchup. Scouting can decide what teams we would trust with switch auto or if we need to change playoff strategies. For us, scouting is important in every single match, not just picklist creation.
It’s always nice to hear the drive team thank the scouts or say that scouting was important to the team’s performance. When I was a freshman, I scouted basically every match and worked on our analysis every other spare moment I had. I very clearly remember our driver at the time thanking me and explaining how important the scouting I did was. Interactions like that are what motivates scouts.
Even when they know scouting is important, there will always be some people who just don’t want to do it. Don’t force them. If you need the people, limit the time they spend scouting. We find the best data comes from those genuinely interested.
In the fall, we try to get anyone interested in website design, spreadsheets, data analysis, or match strategy involved with developing our scouting system for the year. When developing your scouting forms (we use a website), keep your scouts in mind. Try to limit the amount of data they collect so they can focus on what truly matters. Get feedback from your scouts and drive team to improve your scouting system’s data collection and analysis between events. During competition, we try to find the observant and strategically apt people and get them to do more high level scouting (metrics that are more objective).
Food is important. Sometimes matches are running late and the lunch break is delayed, shortened, or nonexistent. Make sure your scouts (and your whole team) get fed.
Scouting is tiring. Try to rotate your scouts and make sure they get breaks. We formed scouting alliances at all of our regionals this year to split the work. Since we like to use our scouting system, we try to establish scouting alliances early with teams who’d be willing to scout using our system. We try to find one single team to scout with at an event and then split the number of scouts we need. We give them a copy of our spreadsheet, so both teams have access to their own version of the analysis and data.