Feature image illustrated by Taylor Callery

It all starts with “I have an idea!” When someone likes another person’s idea, the process of doing a project together starts. However, the path can be rocky without incorporating some basic planning principles so everyone can band together, contribute, and enjoy the process.

Some tips from my toolbox to help you lead a group project:

The Idea

Break it down into small attainable tasks. What areas need to be researched, what supplies need to be gathered, what skills need to be tapped into? Create little steps so that these can be distributed and everyone can feel included.

A whiteboard in the Megabots Build Workshop shows a breakdown of tasks and people responsible for them. Photo by Hep Svadja

Assemble Your Group

Seek talent with a variety of skill sets and a “can-do attitude.” Remember that each person brings a different perspective, and having different viewpoints is important.

Create a Positive Environment

Be supportive and encourage a sense of pride by acknowledging contributions. Build a solid foundation for effective communication with a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished. Task management tools can help provide this open platform to document process and provide information sharing. The art of listening is key and it helps to understand the opportunity of a question. Create a solution-based environment and handle mistakes wisely: no blame, only resolutions.

Two young makers work together to assemble a wooden DNA Helix at Bay Area Maker Faire 2017. Photo by Hep Svadja

Time Is Valuable

Understanding the time involved will help structure the project and gain commitments. It can be a simple list of all the tasks in the order in which they need to be accomplished. Some tasks will be contingent on others; a list will help clarify that. Creating a basic timeline will keep the project on track.

Make meetings matter. Start with your agenda and outline what needs to be accomplished, review these items, identify action items with owners, and document everything. I often use the timeline to set the meeting agendas. A trick is to agree on the topics for the next meeting before you finish the current meeting — this saves time and helps everyone come prepared.

Now turn those great ideas into amazing group projects!