Forming Teams

If you have the opportunity to select your teammates, take it seriously. You're going to spend a great deal of time with them. What follows are issues that you would do well to discuss together before you agree to become teammates.

Exploring these same issues with your teammates is likely to be beneficial even if you're given no choice in who they are. It will help you determine the most effective work assignments and methods of working together.



Do we have complementary skills?

You want to have a team that has all the skills necessary to complete a project. They include:

  • Idea generation - Able to generate multiple ideas
  • Presentation - Able to organize a good oral presentation
  • Mathematics - Able to analyze problems (using math or similar analytic skills).
  • Graphical representation - Able to produce hand or computer drawings
  • Coordination/Facilitation - Able to help the team work together
  • Writer - Able to document the project in words
  • Organizer - Able to structure and track a complex process
Do we have similar interests? This is particularly important if you're choosing your own project. It's less important if the project is assigned to you, although a discussion may still be worthwhile because it will help members make satisfying choices for the necessary tasks.
What experience do we have? This is clearly related to the "skills," but discussing it explicitly may uncover very helpful prior experience that bears on the project.
How serious are we? Face this one up front. If you have different goals (e.g.different grades for which you're working) you're likely to argue once you're in the process if you haven't resolved them sooner. Try and agree on a group goal for effort - even down to expected hours per week devoted to the project.
Can we meet regularly? It's really important to meet regularly - ideally twice a week in addtion to a meeting with your advisor. Do your schedules allow it? Commuters and athletes often have the greatest difficulty this way.


Mistakes People Have Made

Updated: 1/31/03