Organizing, keeping track and making sure things get done

I am going to be taking a bigger role in our team next year, and currently I am struggling with how to effectively organize, keep track of people and get projects done. Thankfully, I am starting now (For post-season projects), which has given me some insights as to the difficulties of organizing a team.

A few things that I have tried :

  • Google calendars
  • Facebook private group
  • Google groups
  • Dropbox
  • Email
  • Skype meetings
  • Google hangout meetings
  • Meetings 3 times per week
  • Meetings once every 2 weeks and weekly project recaps (With me and the project leader)

So far, these have not worked nearly as effectively as I would have hoped.

Basically, we have a team that had 17 members last year, 7-12 of which are still going to participate next year. Of those 7-12, I have only managed to contact 5 (By contact, I mean talk to more than once). Of those 5, I have been able to consistently (a few times per week) contact about 3 of them. OF THOSE, I have been able to get a real amount of work done with 2 (1.5 maybe) of them.

Basically, we can’t actually handle that little participation and reaction to our post-season activity. A good example of how little interest I am getting is our google group. After 3 days of uptime, one person has joined.

So CD, I am looking for your help. Feel free to leave constructive criticism on how I have been doing my job, as I clearly am doing something wrong.

How does your team do this? Is texting the entire team really necessary to get people’s attention (Every time) ? Is there a better way to find a “gathering space” for the team? How do I effectively manage meetings to make them effective, quick and make sure people actually attend? How do I make sure projects get done?

I am open to suggestions, answers to my questions, answers to questions I didn’t necessarily ask and questions about our team.

Thanks,
Joel from Alberta Tech Alliance

Hey Joel,

I don’t have the answers, just wanted to let you know that many teams suffer the same problems you describe… You are not alone.

Eventually you get the right combination of content, motivation and students and things rock. And then the next year comes along and the mix changes. So don’t be frustrated.

Summer meetings can be tough as most people have a lot going on during the summer. I would contact as many members of your team as possible through text / calling them to figure out what times work best for them to meet. I do not make summer meetings required on my team; but, I do make it required for students to keep up with what is going on. As for communications we use Edmodo.com which will send out text messages when alerts are sent. We also use a Google calendar so that parents can keep up to date with robotics activities and Google Drive for sharing documents between mentors and to the team through connecting it to edmodo.com Every team is different and you will need to find the method that works best for your team. If members of your team can not meet during the summer, maybe it would be best to reduce what you want to accomplish over the summer. You might also try to make meetings a bit more fun and relaxed to encourage participation.

We use a twitter account, during the year we have all students text 40404 with “follow theBlitzTeam” and then everytime I update the twitter account they automatically get sent a text. It really cuts down on the time it takes to set up a meeting. Even though I specifically set it up so we have a meeting from 5pm-9pm every Thursday over the summer many students still forget… So I send out a friendly text reminder through twitter the night before and the day of. Not only this but the students can’t lie to their parents about having to go to a robotics meeting anymore!

We make our kids follow our team as well for updates. Does the 40404 “follow #username” work for any twitter account? Does this require your number be hooked up with your twitter account?

Thanks,

-RC

Yes, texting “follow username” to 40404 will work for any twitter account. You do not need the # though. If you are the owner of the account it does not require you to register your cell phone but it is incredibly nice to send a meeting time to 40404 as the owner. It will send the meeting time out to all of your followers.

Evan