After having done the necessary fundamental research on how to control the driving and turning distance of the robot, the team has tried to apply this on the first mission. The task is as follows: “Move two LEGO assembled tiles, representing two pieces of patchwork, from the base area to a target position”. Per tile, the team will be rewarded with 15 points. We picked this mission first because is only requires robot motion with the chosen strategy.
The interesting part of starting design is that several individuals have an idea in their head and want to implement it by themselves. The sentence “I know the solution, let me do it” is heard more than once. We as coaches let them figure it out first, but the team did not succeed at first to find a way to come to a team result. They forgot to define constraints (start position, start direction) and only communicated fragments about the strategy how to get the patchwork tiles on the target area.
Then we helped them with some tools. First we asked them to stop using the word “I…”, but use “We…” instead. Then we asked them questions like: “What steps does the complete operation have?”, “What kind of accessory does the robot need to transport the tiles?” and “What input can you give the team member that creates the robot program?”. We gave them a simple form to write down the ideas and where they could collect the necessary input for the robot program. There is also place to draw the situation on the form.
This improvement made a huge difference. They started to work as a team and the cheers went up when after a few test the mission was accomplished successfully.
What can we learn from this in relation to “real” world. Also there design communication in any stage of the product life cycle is important. The better we are able to share our ideas in early stage of design, the more feedback we can get from colleagues, suppliers, customers or specialists. With SolidWorks we have many tools to do this.
If we create 3D CAD Model it implicitly includes a lot of information that we can share. If a design has to perform a specific task, animation can be a mean, but more easy to use and more productive is 3DVia Composer. Within a minimum of time we can create setups, move around with components and annotate views with arrows, labels, dimensions to explain to other stakeholders what we have in mind.
Maybe we are too quick in some cases to assume that other people do understand our ideas and sometimes the counterpart of the communication link is afraid to ask for a more clear explanation. In those cases we can learn from what we see happening in the FLL team where some communication tools made the difference in achieving success.