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Thread: Communication Amongst the Team

  1. #1

    Communication Amongst the Team

    We are a first year team and we are currently trying to figure out our management style and the way we are going to run things. I was wondering how you communicate most of your information? Email? Facebook? 3rd Party Software?

    Thank you in Advance!

  2. #2
    Have you considered talking to each other?

  3. #3
    We go through this every year, and we have switched every year to a new platform for communication. Here's a short list of what we've tried:

    These all have strengths and weaknesses, but I can assure you that the best way to be successful is to create a culture where the core team is always working together in the same room. That's when "the magic happens".
    Penn Electric Racing

  4. #4
    How do I transmit information that is currently in my brain to the brain of another person? This is a real problem many have faced in Formula SAE, and it remains a struggle even outside of Formula SAE.

    We have many ways of transmitting this information. Often times we use vocalizations and speech as a form of communication. Visual cues can give away lots of information as well, things like body language and facial expressions. Sometimes we will write things using language. If you are adventurous, you can create an abstract representation of what you want to communicate in the form of a drawing. But these are primitive forms of communication. We live in an age were cell phones and social networking are the norm, not messenger pigeons and ravens.

    You have identified a need to communicate information, but it is really difficult to say what might work best without a proper problem statement or background information.

    With a small team of close friends all of whom are in the same class as me, I might opt to use an active form of communication like talking to them. The cost of a verbal exchange is quite low and will get the job done of sharing information.
    If members are working from afar, perhaps an online bulletin would help others communicate.
    Almost everyone I know has Facebook Chat installed on their smart phone, perhaps that is the best medium for communication.

    My reasoning is to pick the most appropriate method for communicating what you want to say. Perhaps an email would be more appropriate to set up that meeting with your faculty advisor over sending a tweet. One of your buddy's sleeping in on an early morning test session? Perhaps a combination of Facebook Chat, SMS and phone calls might wake them up. Asking for someone's ICQ number might be a little bit dated considering the times.

    There was a year where EVERYTHING ran on email. It was quite effective at the time. Everyone made sure they read the emails before the meeting and raised their concerns ahead of time. It worked for that one year, then completely flopped the next year.
    I tried using Slack, but was always on the move between classes that I never had the time or patience to really pay attention to what was being said. I used IRC before for a job, but the same concept just didn't apply to the team.
    Asana is useful for task tracking, but failed to keep the team informed and on time. Work being assigned felt arbitrary and impersonal. Due dates slipped and now every task is red.
    Some people prefer SMS, some people prefer Facebook Chat. I refuse to install Facebook Chat on my phone so I am checking my messages intermittently (arguably when I shouldn't be, like in class). If you want to contact me, perhaps SMS is better.
    Facebook groups seem to work ok, but it is a disaster to find anything in a big chain of discussion. Documentation goes out the window and knowledge transfer suffers.

    There are many solutions to the communication problem that you can install on your smartphone. However, if you aren't communicating in the first place, no app in the world can help you. So perhaps focusing on the basics is a good place to start. Bring clarity to your team meetings and schedule your work times. Make sure people know when you are available and when they can ask questions. If you aren't coming in to work on the car today because you've got this crazy assignment or lab or project due, then let someone know. Ask yourself why you need to communicate and I am sure the how and the what will follow.

    Since you say you are a new team, would you mind disclosing what school you are from, how many people are on your team, what kind of skills and resources do you have available and maybe what you had in mind for management?

  5. #5
    At team Formula CEM (Brazil), we have a big Facebook group for the whole team (for posts that apply to everyone, like big events at the shop or for asking what size polo each one would like), separate FB groups for each subgroup (Powertrain, chassis, etc) but most of our immediate communication is done through WhatsApp groups for the team/subgroups. This allows for quick messages/pictures/videos and everyone uses WhatsApp a lot here in Brazil.
    We started using Trello in the powertrain group and then grew it out to other members of the team. It can be very useful but it's easy to get lost if you have a lot of boards and tasks.

    For file management we used Dropbox in the past but switched last year to Google Drive. Trello also has support for files (up to 100mb each I think), so you can organize files pertaining to each task or board.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    I second Forbes and Adam here.

    "... I can assure you that the best way to be successful is to create a culture where the core team is always working together in the same room. That's when "the magic happens"."

    Call that room the "lunchroom", and you kill two birds with one stone. Every day!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Linköping, Sweden
    We created a system that kinda sorta worked in the end:

    On Sunday evening, a weekly update email was sent out to everybody with information from every subteam, and answers to two additional questions:
    1: What worries you right now?
    2: What can the others do to help you?

    On Monday lunch, there is a team-wide lunch meeting. A really quick update from everyone, and then a discussion about important topics (usually the response to the two additional questions).
    Tue-Fri: Lunch meetings (one per team) for the subteams.

    Once a week, the subteam leaders meet up after school and plan (we've used sorts of visual planning the later years, and it works if you have the space).
    Once a week, the subteam leaders and the team president + chief designer meet up with the FA/Project owner to update on the situation.

    Joint workshops every other Saturday, where we try to get everybody to sit and work together at the same place.

    Google Drive for all documents, and a PLM system for all CAD data. We also built a mockup last year, that was a really good communication practice!

    The Facebook group that includes almost all alumni is used quite a bit, and us old ones can come with feedback, pose questions and annoying remarks about how "we tried that idea in 2013 and it didn't work that time either" ...

    Also, we've tried having "experts" on topics like CAD, manufacturing, composites, FE simulations and ergonomics/vehicle integration, to have people engaging in communication across subteams. But the jury's still out on whether that was a good idea or not, it became a bit of a botch-job organizationally.

    So more or less: As few different places for data storage as possible, and a lot of different possibilities to communicate with others via different media. Some people prefer emails, other to sit down over coffee and talk. Our system sort of had place for all. But now when I wrote it down, it seems like it would be a full time job to communicate, which is not completely true. It does take some time for subteam leaders and TP/CD, but at least I felt that it made up for it in the end when things actually ended up fitting together.
    Fredrik Henriksson
    PhD Student at Linköping University

    ELiTH Racing 2009-2014
    Now: Grumpy old man and workplace safety lecturer

    Please note that my comments does not reflect the opinions or values of Linköping University, ELiTH Racing/LiU Formula Student or their related sponsors.

  8. #8

    Speaking about communication..... wouldn't it be fair that you introduce yourself?

    Just common sense....
    Claude Rouelle
    OptimumG president
    Vehicle Dynamics & Race Car Engineering
    Training / Consulting / Simulation Software
    FS & FSAE design judge USA / Canada / UK / Germany / Spain / Italy / China / Brazil / Australia

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Rouelle View Post

    Speaking about communication..... wouldn't it be fair that you introduce yourself?

    Just common sense....
    Do you and Pat honestly have nothing better to do than trawl around these boards demanding that new members introduce themselves? Who cares who he is. If he has an interesting discussion to start - fantastic. I have absolutely no idea who half the people are here and I like that it means you can have an academic discussion with no prejudice involved. Why does the university someone comes from matter so much to you?
    Last edited by Menisk; 09-24-2015 at 07:27 PM.

  10. #10
    We use the following:
    Offcial E-mails.
    Facebook group.
    Meetings after school time to share technical discussions.
    Last edited by Ahmad Rezq; 09-25-2015 at 09:01 AM.

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