Every game has rules, and in early January thousands of FRC teams around the world get see the rules for the new game and kick off their season.  But before you dig in to the rules and get going your needs to do two very important things. Set goals and identify the team’s realistic capabilities.

 

Create Team Goals for the Season

Your team needs to know what is trying to accomplish as a team.  Are you trying to inspire the most kids, teach kids how to try or win an event.  All of these goals should be documented so that the team can use them to drive priorities during the strategy discussion. Here are some examples of competition goals that will have a big impact on your strategy.

  • Make it to elimination as a 2nd pick at districts
  • Make it to elimination as a 1st pick at districts
  • Make it to elimination as an alliance captain at districts
  • Make it to elimination as a 2nd pick at super regional
  • Make it to elimination as a 1st pick at super regional
  • Make it to elimination as an alliance captain at super regional
  • Make it to elimination as a 2nd pick in a CMP division
  • Make it to elimination as a 1st pick in a CMP division
  • Make it to elimination as an alliance captain in a CMP division
  • Win a district event
  • Win two district events
  • Win a super regional
  • Win a CMP division
  • Win CMP

Here are some examples of team goals that will have a big impact on your strategy:

  • Build 1 robot
  • Build 1.5 robots
  • Build 2 robots
  • Build 3+ robots
  • Robot needs to fit easily into a mini van

 

Identify your Strengths & Weaknesses

Every team has limitation has strengths and weaknesses that need to be well understood to make good decisions about strategy.  We really recommend teams use the SWOT tool break down the team and its resources prior to kickoff every year so that the team can select a strategy that has a high chance of being realized.  SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats.  You can learn how to use the SWOT tool here. Let’s walk through an example SWOT analysis so we can demonstrate how it impacts strategy selection.

Strengths

  • Have and know how to use drill press
  • Have and know how to use band saw
  • Have and know how to use a variety of hand tools
  • Know how to CAD and have 1 robot’s worth of experience
  • Have $6,000 to spend on a robot
  • Have 2 very good technical mentors

Weaknesses

  • Do not have access to CNC mill
  • Do not have access to lathe
  • Do not have access to supplier who can do sheet metal
  • Do not have access to supplier who can weld
  • Can locate drill and cut features within .2 by hand
  • Have not done CAD during a build season
  • Will only be able to get into workshop 2 times a week for 3 hours a piece
  • Have a student to mentor ratio of 20:1
  • Team has not used pneumatics on several years

Opportunities

  • Maximize use of versa frame
  • Pre-select and pre-order parts for drive train
  • Standerdize fasteners
  • Standerdize motor controllers
  • Use pneumatics to keep weight low
  • Be very organized and maximize limited lab time
  • We may get additional mentors

Threats

  • Versa frame is heavy
  • Versa frame is expensive
  • Snow days – last year the team had 6
  • School usage costs could go up
  • Several sub team’s have members with low attendance

 

Read the Rules

  • READ THE RULES!!!!!
  • Understand how teams will be measured at competition
  • Understand how teams will advance
  • Understand limitations defined in the rules

 

Break the game down

  • Identify every way to get points
    • In 2015 we had the periodic of the stack
      • 64NrPJU
      • This was a great example of all of the possible ways to score.  The same needs to be created for each year’s game
  • Identify every way to win
    • Start running game simulations in your head or on the board to create scoring scoring solutions
    • Watch the 3 day builds
    • Read chief delphi to see if  you missed any and then add them to the list
  • Identify the every type of robot task needed to get every point and execute every way to win
    • List all of the ways a robot could play the game during auton.
    • List all of the ways a robot could play the game during teleop.
    • List all of the ways a robot could play the game during coopertition.
  • Identify what percentage of teams at a district, regional, CMP division, CMP championships will be able to perform each capability
    • We use the common, uncommon, rare or impossible method.  Refer to your team’s goals for which level you do this for. The numbers below are for a regional.  The should change based on the event type and level.
      • Common 25-50 teams could do it
      • Uncommon 10-25 could do it.
      • Rare 2-10 team could do it
      • Impossible 1-2 teams could do it.

 

Select a Strategy

  • Identify every impossible, rare, uncommon and common capability that your team could actually complete, based your team SWOT
    • Identify mutually exclusive capabilities
    • Identify capabilities that are linked in some way
  • From the above list, select a set of capabilities your team will build into your robot.
    • For most teams limit yourselves to 1 rare or 2 uncommon or 3 common primary objectives
    • For most teams limit yourselves to 1 rare or 1 uncommon or 2 common secondary objectives
    • For most teams limit yourselves to 1 rare or 1 uncommon tertiary objectives

 

Primary vs Secondary vs Tertiary Objectives

Identifying, documenting and sharing your primary and secondary objectives will be a key way to keep your team on track. Many teams make copies and put them up in all work spaces and refer to them frequently when decisions.  We have some rules for primary and secondary objectives that we follow that help our team meet our season goals.

Primary objectives

  • Must be achievable
  • Must be completed before any work on secondary objectives is started
    • Completed means – designed, fabricated, assembled, systems installed, code running, and system functioning as expected
  • Must take into account your selected team strategy
  • Must take into account your team SWOT analysis
  • recommend keeping work diversity to a minimum
    • if the team takes on lots of small tasks that are different from each other the team’s efficiency could be impacted because the types of things the team will need to learn could be different across all of the tasks. Be aware that increased work diversity could result in a reduction of the team’s total output capacity.
  • Recommend keeping critical resources under scheduled
    • if all of the tasks require a single individual or machine to work more hours that the person or machine has available in the build season, than one or more of those objectives will not get completed.

Secondary Objectives

  • Must not be started til all work on primary objectives is completed
    • Completed means – designed, fabricated, assembled, systems installed, code running, and system functioning as expected
  • Must be completed before any work on tertiary objectives is started
    • Completed means – designed, fabricated, assembled, systems installed, code running, and system functioning as expected
  • Must take into account your selected team strategy
  • Must take into account your team SWOT analysis
  • Must be able to complete detail design and prototyping within a week
  • Must be able to be fabricated, install and tested within a week

Tertiary Objectives

  • Must not be started til all work on secondary objectives is completed
    • Completed means – designed, fabricated, assembled, systems installed, code running, and system functioning as expected
  • Must take into account your selected team strategy
  • Must take into account your team SWOT analysis
  • Must be able to complete detail design and prototyping within two weeks
  • Must be able to be fabricated within 2 weeks
  • Must be able to be install and tested within 6 hours

 

 

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