The Bowmar Builders are an FLL team associated with Bowmar Elementary School. The purpose of this blog is to help other students interested in robotics to learn from what we have learned. As an FLL Robotics team we use the Lego EV3 robotics system and the Mindstorms graphical programming language.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Goals and Processes (or Systems)

By Aaron Byrd

One of the metrics used to judge the team is how well they A) have clear, achievable goals AND B) have a process to achieve those goals. This is part of the Core Values judging competition.

Both of these can be somewhat problematic if not focused on at the beginning of the team season. Most teams fall into one of two "goal" categories: win at the competition, or, learn and have fun. Both of these are good but they are not specific enough.

Defining goals is a challenge, both linguistically and mentally. Goals often fall into one of two general categories: goals about how you are and goals about what you do. Both of these kinds of goals should fit into the SMART framework: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

It often helps to write goals down to get your ideas going, even if they are rough and need refining. Then, you can compare against the SMART framework and revise your goal until it is satisfactory.

Having goals, though, is still not enough. You need a process for achieving the goals. Hopefully you factored this into the goal when you were satisfied that it was Achievable.

Another name for a process is a system. You need an ongoing set of tasks or skills to be practiced that, when taken over time, will lead you to your goal. However, this set of tasks still falls short of being a system that the team uses to accomplish its goal. For the team to accomplish its goals using a process or system, it needs a team leadership structure. For example, the Boy Scouts of America strongly encourage the use of the Patrol Method as a team leadership structure that allows the overall group to better accomplish its goals through a process that puts into place the tasks that need to be done. This is the pattern: Team GOALS -> Team PROCESS -> Team TASKS

In our team we are using a team captain and committees as the process or system by which we develop and oversee the accomplishment of the tasks. So far we have a recognition committee, a core values committee, and a project committee, each with a committee chair. We will in the future form a robotics committee, but we haven't decided whether to keep programming and mechanical design as sub-committees or parallel committees.

A key part of a committee is the purpose of the committee, which I'll cover in a future blog.

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