Guidance for internal teams

Student Robotics has a number of internal teams which contribute to its overall mission. The following is guidance based on experience within the Competition Team, but which any or all such teams may find useful.


Over communicate. Both between yourselves and others. It's very easy to assume that you've mentioned something to other people and that they therefore know what you're working on/towards/etc., yet it later turn out that their understanding is very different to yours. Over communication doesn't eradicate this, but it does greatly reduce it.

Have regular short meetings

Establish a regular cadence of short meetings. The goal of these should be semi-formalised very high level progress check-ins to keep on track, provide an opportunity to unblock things, get input on challenges and raise concerns.

Be aware that these meetings inherently exclude others, so should focus on things which either only the Team can do or which (for whatever reason) must remain their direct responsibility. (For clarity: things which merely happen to be their direct responsibility don't count)

Have regular updates to others

Establish a regular cadence of updates to volunteers. The goal here is to provide a way for volunteers to jump in to ongoing things and to celebrate achievements.

Encourage input from others

Encourage input from a wide team of volunteers. While mass emails can work, you'll also need to approach people individually about things. Try to meet new volunteers in person as much as possible - it's much easier to work remotely with people you've met in person and this also helps build trust which allows you to more easily work through misunderstandings.


Use the existing documentation. If you've found these docs, then you're already doing well, if not then how are you reading this‽

Update the documentation. The existing docs are guidelines, not rules. The best way to help your future selves (and ensure you understand the thing you're working on) is to improve the docs. Note that the docs include a task list for running the competition -- use that too!

Project planning

Kick-off projects. At the start of a project or task, ensure that those who are going to be doing the work understand what's involved and that everyone has a clear picture of what a good outcome looks like. Yes, this totally sounds like corporate management rubbish, but repeated experience shows it's worth doing.

How and Why to Kick-off your projects describes one approach to this.

Be mindful of what you can achieve

This is very similar to the advice given to individual volunteers -- to say "no" to doing some things. Keep in mind what you can and cannot actually achieve and what is in scope. There are two things here -- not taking on too much on a personal level and not attempting to take on too much as a group.

The latter is important to keep focus and the former is important to avoid burn-out as well as setting an example to other volunteers. The corollary here is that you should expect volunteers to be candid about what time they have and expect them to say "no" to doing things too.