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Lab #7: Week of October 21: Making the decision

objective, preparation, what's due, activities

Main Lab Objective

The main goal of the lab this week is to determine which concept will be pursued for the remainder of the term. Once this decision is made, the team should organize, allocate resources, and begin working towards the assembly review and the technical review.

It is important to have your full team and your instructors participate in the concept selection process, so it is strongly recommended that you wait until this week's lab meeting before making a decision. If you feel that you cannot wait until your lab before making a decision, please make arrangements with your instructors so that they can participate in the decision meeting.

Advanced preparation for Lab #7

Individual:
Read the assembly model (October 29 (red, green, blue, yellow at 11 PM) or Ocotber 31 (pink, orange, purple, silver at 11 PM)) and technical review (November 18) descriptions so that you are familiar with the upcoming milestones.

As a section:
If possible, meet with your section to discuss the mockup review. What worked well? What did not? How will you do better next time? If there are additional issues that should be be looked into before deciding on your project direction, work on them prior to the lab meeting.

Prepare a short summary presentation about your opposite section's concept, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and open issues. Be sure to work with the opposite section and have their agreement on the key points of your summary presentation. In addition to summarizing the sketch models and mockups, please try to outline thoughts about key tasks that the team will engage in to carry the idea forward to a product prototype.

As a team:
System integrators from both sections should meet to form an agenda and devise a rational decision process with relevant criteria for choosing the team concept.

What's due
Design notebooks are due in lab this this week.

Your team code of ethics is due at the start of this week (see the course home page)

Email the course instructor your final project direction after the lab.

Recommended Lab #7 Activities
In all remaining labs the two sections will work together. Make a point of intermixing the seating so that sections are not polarized on opposite sides of the room. Decide if the name cards are needed.

Begin with the standard meeting startup.

Submit your design notebooks.

Spend roughly 10 minutes in total to present the short concept summaries prepared before lab, reviewing the team's two ideas and feedback from the mockup presentation. Your instructors will discuss your mockup review grades in next week's team meeting.

System integrators should propose the decision process they have developed, and revisions should be made based upon input from the team. If the sections are different in size, be sure that your decision process is perceived to be fair. It should not be possible for one section to simply out-vote the other. You want to make the best choice regardless of who has worked on an idea.

A Pugh chart or similar rational process should be used to help elucidate and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the concepts relative to your team's project criteria. Think carefully about risks associated with your product concepts.

Negotiate the product definition for the final alpha prototype. Focus on the common goal of having the best-possible successful project, and in making a timely decision so that your team can move on to the next steps. You should make a choice on the basis of what is the best option, not on an emotional level. Be willing to change your mind as new information becomes available.

It is hoped that this experience will help you prepare for times when, as a project manager, you will need to make critical decisions from a set of alternatives. Be thorough but do not belabor the process—begin by checking to see if there is consensus.

Be sensitive to team dynamics and focus on the merits of the concepts, not ownership of the ideas. For example, make statements like: the idea has significant technical risk rather than your idea has significant technical risk; the widget idea fulfills an important need rather than my widget idea fulfills an important need. Paying attention to how things are said can make a significant difference.

Remember that consensus does not mean that every team member has the same opinion about what is the best direction to pursue. Consensus means that all team members agree that the direction has been chosen and they will fully engage in helping the development effort succeed in the chosen direction.

Once a decision is made, celebrate team buy-in symbolically with a YoWup! (view the instructions (certs required) and an actual board meeting YoWup) This is derived from a Japanese tejime symbolic gesture symbolizing that all team members fully support the decision and are committed to advancing the project in its chosen direction. To perform the ritual, the team stands, chants Yo Wup! and simultaneously claps on the Wup. Creative interpretation of the chant is encouraged. If the chant is not sufficiently enthusiastic it should be repeated, or the team needs to further reflect on the decision.

Make a plan for the team's next steps (assembly and technical review) and allocate responsibilities. Think carefully about the best way to bring all team members up to speed on the chosen concept.

Divide tasks and assign responsibility for design issues that need to be addressed. Make sure that there is a clear plan of how the product contract and assembly model will be prepared for the deadline next week. Remember that the in-class assembly presentations are Wednesday and Friday next week.

Don't forget to pickup your reviewed notebook before leaving lab.