Reflection 5 - Five things I have learned about building and managing a project team
This is the fifth of the reflection series where I will be sharing my experiences; lessons learned and project progress. Please enjoy!
In the words of Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships”.
In this episode of the reflection series, I will be discussing five main lessons I have learned through the project between March 1st and March 24th and how these lessons have helped us grow and progress as a team.
The following include the five main themes of the lessons learned and how we have applied them in our bicycle innovation project, pulse:
Passion and Productivity
Talent and Knowledge
Passion And Productivity
Throughout our project, we have had the chance to display and explore our passions and that has helped boost the productivity of the project. As well as keep the team morale up even after several weeks into the project. One thing I found was that we were very excited at the beginning of the semester while brainstorming on different ideas that we could work on for our project until we finally found something we all would like to work on.
It was quite a task getting started on the project although we created a project timeline and planned everything according to standard project management procedures, we were not able to execute as desired. This was due to the different challenges that occurred with getting our parts needed for certain parts of the project.
A major disappointment was the LED matrix. Due to the unavailability of our desired specifications at the time or ordering, the person in charge of ordering purchased the closest possible LED matrix that was available for us. Albeit, somewhat disappointing, more than half of the team were still hopeful and excited that it was still possible for us to execute the project according to plan. “We just need to work with what we’ve got,” said Andrew. The team trusted him and we worked together to ensure that we completed that section of our project.
This would not have been possible without the passion and dedication of our team members for bringing our project to live. Our passion combined with out dedication helped ensure that we successfully completed a major part of our project and this drive has kept us going ever since.
Below is a video clip showing a fully functioning prototype of our LED matrix that we eventually designed to work with for the project:
Functional LED Matrix
No team is ever able to work together if there is no agreement in decision-making and execution. Thankfully, we were fully aware of this fact and we had learned about each other and how to best communicate with each other in the first few weeks of working together so as to ensure the intent and content of our conversations are not lost in context.
The success of our team is demonstrated in this phenomenon through our efficient and successful plan, preparation and presentation for our design review. When we received the topic for the presentation we started working on the topics to cover simultaneously with each person putting together relevant information about the parts they are working on in the project for the presentation. After individuals successfully completed their parts, Joanna helped to design the template for putting out idea in a slide to ensure maximum effectiveness during our presentation.
We spent about 2-3 hours together preparing for the presentation and going over the major and minute details of the project together to make sure the presenters have full understanding of all the other parts of project that they may have not gotten enough chance to work on. Although, not everyone in the team was presenting, we were all there to support and collaborate together in order to ensure a successful demonstration of out bicycle innovation.
You can find the final presentation slide for the design review below:
I fell like the synergy in the team can almost be felt through the presentation on the slide.
Talents And Skills
At this point with two months into the project, we have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. This was an invaluable component of our project as it allowed us to focus our talents and skills into the most effective parts of our projects.
Althaf is the lead software developer for the team and has since worked on writing our code for the sensors and other hardware in the system, while Andrew and I are more knowledgeable in designing the algorithm and sometimes flowchart for our to go about solving certain problems in the project. Zihao (aka Jimi Hendrix) is our top graphical designer and artist. He is very talented in making fairly accurate sketched of our ideas when we are strategizing and working out options for the system designs.
Together we have been able to develop what we hope to be the best packaging possible for our final product and will be working on building the box in the coming days.
The only occasion when we had a misunderstanding so far in the team was at the time when our order was mixed up setting us back for a week following our project timeline. This was somewhat a tough time in the team especially because this was the main part for which some members of the team were responsible for, including me, and I took the situation a bit too personal.
However, over time, I learned that such moments allow us to demonstrate our strength as a team.
Hence, we have not experienced anything or sort ever since. Because we were able to learn and lean on each other when similar occasion arises. With our experience in the aspect, I believe we are now equipped to deal with any unforeseen circumstances that may attempt to inflict conflict among the team.
Our diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives helps to bring a holistic approach to every challenges we face together and allowing us to view the situation from every angle to determine what solution is best for us moving forward.
Warren Bennis said ‘leadership is the capacity to turn vision into reality.’ I could not agree more with this statement, especially with the dynamic of our team. While I have been given the title of the project leader in this team and have done my best to demonstrate the utmost characteristics of an effective leader, I have learned more from my teammates that I can imagine.
We share passion and vision for our project and tirelessly work together to bring it to life. And often times I see the creativity and thoughts being put into the project by teammates and it inspires me and reminds me of our lucky I am to be with very talented and passionate people. It is evident that each member recognizes that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to the team to deliver out parts of the project as at when due. Not only do we stop at recognizing these responsibilities but also we always work together to ensure the best results are delivered.
As a project team leader, I have learned so much about how to build and manage a project through my experience thus far. And I feel like my team has demonstrated a very excellent standard in showing their passion for the work we are doing and that as greatly helped in ensuring productivity.
We have been able to apply our talents and skills where and when necessary working collaboratively and proactively preventing any conflicts that may set us back in the project by having open and honest conversations about how we feel the project is going and where we want it to be. Each team member has demonstrated highly admirable skills and talents that qualify each person as a leader in their own right and as leads of other smaller parts of the project.
I hope to continuously learn and grow not only as a leader but an effective communicator and team player while honing my technical skills in my career.
Thanks for reading!