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  • Captain Starshot: A Team Lead's Takeaway

    [07.02.19]
    - Nick Guilliams

  • Goal #1: Structure

    The first thing we had to achieve was team structure. Who would be making the decisions, how would we communicate, how and when would we work, what work ethics would be necessary,...

    The first thing we did was establish a strong lead team. For each discipline we had one lead. The communicative skill is incredibly important here so be very mindful of who you choose to lead. 

    A lead's job is to be a representative towards anyone that is not directly in that team. If a lead does not properly communicate in any way you should replace him by someone who does.  Some guidelines i noticed:

    • Yes-men are not fit for a lead position.

    • Leads need to be available for a meeting at almost any time and for almost any reason.

    • Patience.

    • The ability to hand off work to other people and give them the ownership over said work.

    • The ability to manage their own emotions and look at situations with the sole goal of identifying the best solution for both the project and the team.

    • Slight pessimists are better fit than optimists.

    • The ability and skill to diffuse a strained situation.

    These are the main ones that I identified as important traits or qualities that a good lead should have. The ability to manage, track and organize the team is also important but is secondary to the above listed points.

    The lead's job is to manage the project's creative direction. Together with you, the producer, you will form the lead or management team. You guys should be a fixed point, any and all decisions you should all agree on. If there is anything wrong, unclear or otherwise undesirable the team will be looking at the lead team for direction and guidance. 

    As a producer you should have little or even nothing to do with the creative direction of anything in the project, that is for your leads to do, your job is to make sure that the team can work as well as possible. Note that i did not say ‘efficiently'. In a lot of information regarding production it is said that the producer should improve the efficiency. While this is true do not treat this as you main objective. Especially not in a flat structure. People will resent you for it as they will not feel like you have the authority, skill or experience to actually make those decisions for them. Instead make efficiency decisions together with the leads based on data you have gathered from the team. 

    Anyways, once you have leads setup they will be taking care of the team for now so you can take a step back as a producer to establish project rules. This can literally be anything.

    • Work place

    • Work time

    • Work ethics

    • Documentation

    • Communication tool

    • Responsibilities

    • Schedules

    • ....

    I would advise you to note anything down that you think a team member should know. This is basically a contract, however in the case that you are also dealing with a flat hierarchy call it ‘Team rules agreement' or something similar and save yourself a world of pain.

    Goal #2: Clear & defined responsibilities

    Make sure that individual responsibilities are clearly defined. Start with the leads, clearly communicate what the team can expect from them and what they can expect from the team. Make it so that people are able to say that something is not within their responsibility and that it is clear when they are doing something outside of that. This makes it a lot easier when you will be tackling multiple things at once. After the leads define that for roles, disciplines,... whatever you deem appropriate but make sure they can do the same thing.

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