Growing in project management & leadership in our student start-up
Automotive Technology InMotion
Microsoft, Apple, Samsung. Three examples of large successful companies. One of the reasons for their success is that they all have things in arranged and in control. Such companies have thousands of employees in every sector around the world. Without good project management you will not get much further than a start-up with just a dream. It is exactly to prevent this from happening that learning about managing an organization can’t be done soon enough.
At the Eindhoven University of Technology we have student teams. These are groups of students who have a big goal, such as participating in a national or even global competition with the product that they have developed themselves. We are one of those student teams: Automotive Technology InMotion. We are not Microsoft or Apple in terms of size, but we notice that with a group of around 30 people it is also quite a task to make everything run smoothly. Fortunately we received help from Roel Wessels of Holland Innovative, the author of The Complete Project Manager.
InMotion is a student team with the aim of participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the largest and oldest motorsport events in the world. We want to do this with a fully electric racing car, that would be the first in this race. In addition to the technical work that there is to do, there are also a lot of management issues. In the beginning we noticed that technology played the biggest role. We have built the fastest electric formula car. A great success for a group of students! However, in terms of marketing and management things were a little less pleasant. We are all ‘techies’, so marketing and PR are not our strong points. In such a situation you have to set clear deadlines and tasks to ensure that the cooperation runs smoothly. In this way both technology and management are balanced.
Roel has taught us techniques and ways how we could best tackle this situation. This included everything from making a product breakdown, keeping stakeholders involved, managing team members, implementing Agile Scrum processes, and explaining personal and influencing leadership. Here the explanation about “acting as your TomTom” and the prevention of “submarine behaviour” was a real eye-opener. This was explained in knowledge sessions at the TU / e, after which we really started working with the theory in private work sessions. We then worked out his explanation, after which we applied it to the team. In the following work sessions, we evaluated the findings and tackled the following “problems.”
We are now a few months later, and we notice that our team is really doing well. Our teamwork was good, but now we really feel like one team working towards one goal. If you are curious about this part of our “Road to Le Mans”, I definitely recommend that you keep an eye on the website, because there will be more about managing success soon!
Automotive Technology InMotion