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Rapid Design through Virtual and Physical Prototyping

Carnegie Mellon University

Course Index

Notes on having productive team meetings

How to have a meeting

  • Set goals
  • Discuss what does the team need to achieve together that can't be done individually or through e-mail.
  • Make the decision process explicit.
    • Will one person make the decision based on team input?
    • Majority rules?
    • Consensus required?
  • Set a time limit
  • Take notes during the meeting
  • If a resolution isn't reached by the time limit, then decide on a strategy for reaching a resolution at the next meeting (more information, alternate procedure, new team member ...)
  • When the meeting adjourns, everyone should have explicit tasks and goals. Review these goals before everyone leaves. Be sure you all agree on what each person will do and what he/she will bring to the next meeting.
  • Distribute the meeting notes to everyone in the team within one day of the meeting.

Roles in a Team

  • Facilitator
    • Keeps a group on track
    • Makes sure the ideas from quiet people are heard
    • Synthesizes discussions
  • Time keeper
    • Keeps track of time. The time keeper can say things like: "We've used up half our meeting time and have only covered one item. We have ten more items to cover." The time keeper should also let the group know when there are 5 or 10 minutes left in the meeting so that the decisions made during the meeting can be summarized and tasks can be assigned.
  • Scribe
    • The scribe should take notes at the meeting and distribute them after the meeting.

Why learn to work in a team?

  • Most engineering projects are done by interdisciplinary teams.
  • These teams can be made up of people from
    • several engineering disciplines, e.g., electrical, mechanical, chemical
    • other business functions, e.g., marketing, sales, testing, maintenance
  • You need to be able to work effectively in a group of people who have a common primary goal, but who often have very different secondary goals

Strategies for team work

Common strategies for team work
  • Divide and conquer
  • Coordinate and collaborate

What are the implications of these strategies?

Can you think of other strategies?

What skills do you need to work in a team?

Ability to communicate
Technical skills
Willingness to pitch in and work toward the common goal
Willingness to take on different roles in the group
Ability to communicate

Remember communication is two-way!

How to pick a team

  • Diversity of skills and interests
  • Diversity of personality types
    • Extroverts/Introverts
    • Judging/Perceiving ( ~= Criticizing/Creating)
Even though these roles may be assigned, anyone can play any role at any time!

Team communication

  • Verbal (e.g. memos, reports, change orders)
  • Oral (e.g. presentations, phone calls, meetings)
  • Schematic (e.g. circuit diagrams, flow charts, blue prints)
  • Gestural
  • ....
Think about the design games from the first day of class. How do they relate to team communication?

Design Games

  • Name ball
  • Sound ball
  • What are you doing?

Team Skill Checklist

  1. Quality of process
    • Generate ideas and formulate problems and tasks
    • Work effectively in a group setting: carrying one's share of the responsibilities
    • Respond effectively to guidance and criticism from peers
    • Complete specific tasks and analyses on time
  2. Quality of product
    • Use problem solving and analytical skills
    • Interpret data and analyze problems
    • Integrate work with overall group and project effort
  3. Demonstration of professionalism
    • Attend meetings promptly
    • Deliver agreed upon parts of the project
    • Seek information from resources (other team members, instructor, outside experts, library, web)
    • Pull fair share with regard to overall work load on project
  4. Demonstration of initiative
    • Develop ideas constructively with others
    • Make helpful suggestions on ways to accomplish goals
    • Listen to and absorb what other team members say
    • Give input, but allow others to talk
    • Include ideas from others when summarizing
  5. Demonstration of effectiveness in independent work
    • Meet deadlines
    • Share resources when appropriate
  6. Summary Evaluation
    • What specific suggestions would you make to this individual for work on future group projects?
    • What was the individual's most valuable contribution to the group?


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