This week is the first official week for our Lightning Lab GovTech 2019 cohort. While the projects kicked off on Monday, the real work started a week prior with bootcamp. As the name suggests, the bootcamp week is all about getting the teams up to speed on the tools and methodologies they will be applying throughout the project. It’s a crash course to the crash course, and it can be as gruelling as it is fun.
Learning the ways of GovTech
As much as the teams are learning about the tools that they will be using throughout the accelerator, they are also learning about each other. Many of our project teams are a collaborative effort from multiple organisations. A big focus of bootcamp is getting the teams on the same page right from the start.
Teams were guided through creating goals and a team mantra which were then visualised in a t-shirt design. We wanted the cohort to work together to create a wholesome, supportive and productive atmosphere here in the CHQ GovTech hub.
There are a multitude of different theories around how to build successful teams. In the Lightning Lab context, we try to keep things as organic as possible and let the group work out the best approach for them. Nonetheless, we have a few keys things that experience has taught us on how to get teams firing on all cylinders.
Stack the deck
It is crucial to get the right mix of people in the room to start with. This prevents the team from getting sucked into one track of thinking. The whole point is to explore and consider different aspects of their project. Having different cultural, social and experiential backgrounds makes for a much richer application of the tools we use throughout the accelerator.
Consider the exercise of assumption mapping, a key part of the problem discovery process. The purpose is for the participants to work out what they think they know and test whether this is correct. It is also an exercise in working out what they don’t know. If opinions are unanimous in this exercise, the results can be quite narrow. Having a healthy amount of disagreement can prompt a more thorough investigation. One person might consider something an obvious truth while another might be less convinced. Diversity helps to avoid confirmation bias in this process and makes for a more robust exercise.
Lay out some ground rules
Once the teams are assembled there needs to be an agreement on how they are going to work together. Making a point of talking about this at the start of the programme avoids any nasty confrontations down the line. This sort of tension can kill the level of energy and enthusiasm required in an accelerator environment. By creating a written set of guidelines, everyone has a way to settle these disputes peacefully. All that is required is a simple reminder of the commitment that the whole team made at the very beginning.
The form of this may look different from team to team, as will the things that they outline or outlaw. In order for it to make a difference it is crucial that the whole team is present and contributes to the creation of this document. Once it is agreed on, the guidelines should be written down and made visible to the whole team. Ideally this will be physically placed in the workspace to keep this top of mind. Seeing the guide everyday will serve as a reminder to work with respect and keep everyone happy and on task.
PLAYing for Keeps
It is always a good idea to keep things playful and facilitate as much fun as possible. Our Lightning Lab programmes cram into three months what most startups would go through in a year or more. It’s intense and it’s hard work. This makes it so important to keep things light and find time to laugh and relax whenever possible.
It might be worked into the team’s ‘ways of working’ document. It can be encouraged by the coaches and programme directors. Overall, the team needs to work out how they can inject a bit of life into accelerator life. This will keep the energy high and make the process one that they will look back on as the craziest, best three months of their lives.
So far in GovTech this has taken the form of building paper planes, rock offs and throwing bouncy balls around. The reasons behind the fun presented itself as the teams discovered the benefits of co-leadership, celebrating failure, victory and placing trust in your peers.
If you want more tips on how to build a successful team, check out this resource where we go a bit more in depth on what makes team’s successful. You can also read the full descriptions of this year’s projects here.
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