Over the duration of our first couple projects as an ‘official’ group, we have been experimenting with process and evolving our project structure to accommodate our growing group so that everyone can get the most out of what we are trying to do.
Below is a breakdown of what we are going to be doing for the next project cycle. As always, things are subject to change based on how people like the way things are going and if we are able to keep everyone engaged, interested, and learning.
Prior to the first meeting of a cycle, we send out an invite to as many people as possible and select a venue. We also ask that everyone look into events/occasions that are coming up between 2 and 3 months after the beginning of a project. These can be obvious things like Christmas, or more obscure things like International Body Paint At Work Day.
It is also suggested that everyone attending come with three things that they would like to learn/work with in mind. These can be technologies or mediums that will be a part of the next project. In the past, they have included things like vinyl, electromyography, and brain reading.
Upon meeting up, we go through introductions for everyone and spend a little time introducing the group and the brainstorming process to those that are new. Once all the niceties are done, we get down to it. Check our brainstorming page for more information about how that process works.
We now have a rough idea of what the project is going to be, we know the target date, and we know the technologies that are going to be included in the project. It is time for learning. Week 2 is all about learning.
As a general rule, we start off with an introduction/refresher to Arduino. Arduino is something that almost always gets used in our projects because of its versatility. We advise people not to include it in their technologies for the brainstorming because it is the silent 4th technology in most projects.
After the Arduino talk, we will introduce the rest of the technologies that have been selected and volunteers will lead a brief session to get people excited about their possibilities. These sessions usually last about 15 – 30 minutes.
Weeks 3 – 5
This is a new section of the project that we are going to experiment with. Our previous method involved splitting into teams to modularize the approach to building our project, which meant that people only really got to work on one piece of the bigger puzzle.
Going forward, depending on the technologies that have been selected, we will run full evening workshop/build sessions where everyone in the group will build with the given technology, helping each other and learning along the way. What is built at these sessions will be directly related to the final project, and will help us build better and faster when the time comes to focus on the project itself.
The number of weeks that these sessions last will depend on the technologies that are selected and how far people want to go with them during the session. It will also be impacted by the overall project timeline. It could be that we just need one night to cover the technologies more in-depth, or the full 3.
These are build weeks, entering the build weeks, we will break into smaller teams and take ownership and responsibility of everything. This is where we need people to be honest about their dedication to the projects that we build and also use any entrepreneurial drive to help move things also, since we don’t have project managers.
On the occasion
Depending on the project, we will have a case study, an event, a performance, or some other crazy brain-child. If we have something to show to the public, then we branch off a little bit towards the end of the project to coordinate the presentation of our work.
It should also be noted that if we don’t finish a project by the end of the cycle, it is considered a fail and is no longer a part of our Wednesday night meet-ups. That isn’t to say that it is dead in the water, if people would still like to work on the project, they are welcome to but the group as a whole will be moving onwards and upwards.