Building Successful Teams

Steps to Building Great Teams

“What kindergarteners do differently is that they start with the marshmallow, and they build prototypes, successive prototypes, always keeping the marshmallow on top, so they have multiple times to fix when they build prototypes along the way. Designers recognize this type of collaboration as the essence of the iterative process. And with each version, kids get instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t work.”

– Tom Wujec

“Oh sure, we have lots of superstars in music. It’s just, they don’t last very long. It’s the outstanding collaborators who enjoy the long careers, because bringing out the best in others is how they found the best in themselves.”

–┬áMargaret Heffernan talking quoting producers of hit albums

“There are three factors that the science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

– Daniel Pink

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Discuss what students learned from the talk about group formation and best practice
Assemble into 5 person teams – students’ choice.
Run teams through a powerpoint that has each of the following steps on a separate slide:
* Choose a facilitator for the planning phase (may or may not be the eventual project leader)
* share names, email addresses, determine group’s preferred communication method
* Start brainstorming “what am I good at”‘s so the team can start thinking about individual roles.
* break down “what needs to be in the game” mechanically/programming – some elements (menus, character controllers, etc) need to be in game regardless of prompt.
* break down “what needs to be in the game” art-wise – some elements (buttons, character, backgrounds, etc) need to be in game regardless of prompt.

* Provisionally task out elements to team members based on aptitude. This may change after prompt.
* Outline a *fast* GDD framework that students can use to help development. Have students start filling in details that can be filled without knowing prompt.
* Task out GDD elements (provisionally).7pm Monday: After task/prompt release email, forward to studentsTuesday:
Guided brainstorm.
2 min self-brainstorm (no talking, write on notecards)
2-3 minute team brainstorm. Not evaluating ideas, just sharing out. Team puts all items in list.
5 min team discussion of brainstorm ideas – decide on game at the 30,000′ level (we’re going to do a beat-em-up set in the revolutionary war, for example).
3 mins develop High Concept (1 sentence). Share out afterward to class.
7 mins re-evaluate plan outlines from Monday, make adjustments where needed.
Discussion on leadership skills – what makes a good team lead. Teams choose producers.
Fill out “loose” GDD (enough details to allow for work to start, but not thorough)
Re-evaluate task assignments, adjust where appropriate. Focus on “How long will this take” as opposed to “make sure each person has equal number of things”
Fill out calendars/timelines to create schedules for completion milestones.
Begin initial steps.Note: Timings I’m still adjusting (and will continue to re-tweak through tues) for both days – but I’ve found that by having a timer on each step and keeping it in peoples’ mind (I literally have a countdown timer on the screen displaying the whole time) they tend to focus better and sidetrack less because they know “there’s another step coming in just a couple mins, so we better hurry through this one”. When in doubt, give them too little time – you can always “reconsider”, and the kids might surprise you by finishing quickly. Vary your times so they don’t get into a “oh, we’re going to get four mins no matter what, so it might be ok to waste a few mins here and there”. I never use the same timer twice in a row.We’ve (Lee Anne and I) used this basic method before, and really started using this formula this year – we move the students into the lecture hall to change the discussion atmosphere and the students have responded pretty well to this – they say they find it pretty helpful in terms of guidance and they’ve said they think it’s worthwhile to keep doing.

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