Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crafting effective teams.

[Re-appropriated from the ESW class blog. Written by me.]

It's hard to believe that all this -- the solar kiosk project, the Chife Foundation, and now this class -- began with a simple officer application to ESW a year ago. That led to applying for the solar grant through SunEdison. I fell into a leadership role to design a solar device -- something I knew nothing about. I was more than a person among my student peers, trying to do something interesting with solar technology: people looked to me for vision, direction, and motivation. While daunting at first, I have come to genuinely enjoy this role. It is deeply satisfying to help create this amazing opportunity, which will also benefit people in need.

The challenge, of course, is knowing how to craft an effective team. Rarely are we taught the theory behind it. Most managers in the professional world are promoted to the position by default of seniority and expertise. This is odd. Management is not necessarily intuitive and is rarely cultivated in undergraduate schooling. I think we, as a society, underestimate the difficulty of the position. As an engineer, I still feel obligated to produce tangible work outputs. This translates into me spending time doing the work that my team should be doing. It's a common mistake, and easier to diagnose than to treat. For me, the challenge is to fundamentally recognize the value of management work and to focus more on team building than doing everything myself.

That said, I am absolutely ecstatic about the prospects of this class. Our class leaders have great technical experience in the field and will be valuable resources for guidance and knowledge. There are stellar students here, passionate about sustainability and eager to make real contributions to the world. It will be a real fun group to work with.

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