We call our approach the bus factor approach.
^Here is what came out of group discussion this week. This is not cleaned up or particularly well formatted, just a screenshot of the live document we built during discussion. The blank column is students names that I have censored, but it’s one row per student that will be returning in 2023 (which is all of them, less the ones that are graduating). The students under the black line are currently in middle school.
Bus Factor: Measure of risk associated with having knowledge and skills concentrated rather than distributed throughout the organization.
Ideally, we want each skill to have a minimum of three students at functional competency, and each student to be at functional competency in at least three skills. The former minimizes risk of workflow disruptions, and the latter helps students to be dynamic and be able to be useful throughout a season.
For this offseason we are focusing on development of functional competency via projects - Specifically continuing to iterate our existing Rapid React robots, building a Rapid React swerve robot, and designing and building an elevator. We have in the past done very targeted instruction in greater detail, but we think the project tactic will also help hone project management awareness and other less concrete technical skills we feel we are presently lacking.
Having identified the gaps in collective ability, individual interests, and projects we’ll make an intentional effort to assign tasks to promote skill development throughout the offseason (i.e. when something needs to be lathed, it’ll get done by a team member who is learning to lathe, rather than one that already knows how).
We have a lot of time allocated in the summer (7 weeks of summer day camp of which each team member will attend at least 2, and during which time is split between doing FRC projects and running K-8 feeder programs) so that’s when the bulk of practice happens.
First year team members will have the chance to float around between skills until they find a place they feel useful and find interesting.
The particular tactics for training have changed a bit every year but the focus on covering all of our bases as an organization has remained pretty consistent since pre-season 2016 (2014 was our “rookie” year as we resurrected an old team number).
We’re choosing to focus on less linear skills first (mechanical and software specifically) as those are the ones that take practice more so than instruction, as we figure the worst case scenario is nobody learns how to bend/lathe/etc. before season and we can teach that on demand when needed.
(I jumped around a lot in this response because if I didn’t I might never actually hit reply)