The CFS experience
Taking about 30 hours to come up with a team goal and then the next 320
odd days to achieve this goal. That was CFS14 in a nutshell.
As CFS14 comes to an end, CFS15 takes off with a new team, new management and a new goal, this time going electric. Accomplishing our goal by setting foot on the podium, became even more memorable with this being the last combustion car done at CFS.
Formula student UK and Formula student Germany was where we competed, in both these competitions many dreams were broken and quite many full-filled for all the teams that took part. But we all took back with us memories and experience, which matters the most.
My previous post here tries to capture what the course sets out to teach explicitly. But, only after finishing this project do I understand the subtle changes this project has imbibed in me. This post I try to capture few of these changes that are now very visible in my daily work.
Structure and organization is now the first step to approach any problem. During both the competitions the biggest learning outcome was the difference between a organized team to a disorganized one. This one difference can be the difference between winning and losing.
The need for a documented and a data-driven approach would easily follow as the next step. My first question on receiving a task is about associated documentation in written format. Though, this is not very effective in terms of work, it does save quite a lot of time in understanding/solving the problem. It also save you from missing out details due to miscommunication.
There was once a time when I looked at the calender only to see the next holiday, now I check the calender almost every hour. It is the most handy tool when it comes to time management.
Shit always happens. Doing a project as big as CFS, shit has to happen. Things will not work out as planned. To not give up at this point and to put the project and the goal before oneself. This is the single most important thing in any project. Looking at the best teams failing during at Germany, I know Even after all this, shit can happen. Being prepared to face this helps. To look at what stage the project is in, and to be able to predict what can go wrong make a big difference to the final outcome, both in-terms of time and effort spent.
I now understand the need to have a goal and a working plan, and to spend time in creating it and reiterating plans. This again saves time. Funny as it may sound, it troubles me to be part of projects which does not have a goal or plan set out explicitly.
The unique thing about this whole learning experience is, it can never be expressed in words. The amount of effort and sacrifice put into the project
with the pressure one needs to undergo to fulfill that goal we had set, can never be expressed or understood by some one who hasn’t done formula student. All in all, it was the best experience so far and the most unique. I doubt I will ever get this experience ever again with all the high and low, the pressure, inter-cultural interaction, the broad technical support, the whole team building exercise, and much much more.