CRGP 2019: How much creativity does it take to lead a creative team?

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Business students at Laurea (UAS) took the places of producer for game development teams in Capital Region Game Project Fall 2019. More commonly known as CRGP, is a cooperative class between Metropolia, Haaga-Helia, Laurea, Stadin ammattiopisto and Amiedu and is taking place for the second time. Annamaija, Heikki, Henni and Lauri will be writing blogs throughout the fall to tell about their experiences of being a producer in game development teams.

Author: Lauri Niemi

Different kinds of software are being used at workplaces and school teams enough, if not too much. Sometimes, it feels like the time spent on using different scheduling applications and other guidance programs, could be used on the project itself. At times, I find myself asking can there be too many programs and methods in use at once? In my opinion, there definitely can be. Many times, different software’s and methods are in use simultaneously, for example a link to a document stored in one location has to be shared in a different application. As an individual occasion, this would not be a problem. However, when you notice, you cannot remember where it was that you found a certain document; you are using too many applications to handle one thing.

There can be various methods and applications used in one project and this demands a lot from the user. In big projects where groups of people work on different things it can be sensible to use different applications and methods for each individual segment, if using one method and/or application proves to be ineffective. In cases like this the producer or supervisor has to be a lot more active in supervising the progress of the project and communication between team members. In situations like this it is crucial to have a form of instant messaging in use, so that when a team member adds something to the project they can inform the whole team about this and the team as a whole knows about the state of the project and not only the producer or game lead.

How creative decisions do you have to make when choosing methods of communication for you team?

When choosing a method of communication with a team the most important thing is talking, as it is with every decision. Meet with your team and agree on the method of communication and the mutual rules of using agreed method. At this point, it is important to listen to your team members and make sure you find a method suited for everyone. If there is even one member opposing the suggestion of using multiple methods, see if you can find a single method which suites all member or if you should divide the team into smaller teams. The lack of commitment to using agreed method of communication from one member can result into all members discarding communication entirely. There is a mindset of “if they don’t have to, I won’t either”, this mindset is extremely difficult to weed out. Luckily, these days’ people tend to have many different pre-existing communication applications that can be utilized in many different situations, whether it be a work/school project, making plans with friends or just chatting there is a channel for everything. For this reason, people already have a method of active communication and the easiest is to try to find a mutual method of communication between team members. Different applications for communication tend to be simple and easy to learn, so to learn effective use of these applications does not take much effort. Most of the communication apps can be used on multiple surfaces, for example mobile and computer, and for this reason are suitable for even the busiest of members as they can participate in the conversation on the go via mobile. This way we can reach the majority faster.

Scheduling, what’s the use? There’s still plenty of time… 

Sound familiar? Many of us, for one reason or other, tend to leave things until the very last minute. Reasons for this vary, for example other upcoming deadlines and prioritizing, laziness, jobs and relationships, the list goes on. Everyone has a reason to leave things undone and there for scheduling and life management is important. Different apps and methods are used daily even in personal lives. The biggest reason for this is surely due to their simplicity and notifications, which motivate people to finish things they have started. None of us wants a constant reminder of unfinished tasks, so we do them and get a satisfaction from this.

Time management is something we can learn by ourselves, some of us have to learn it the hard way and some of us knowingly spend time learning it. Some of us are lucky in a way that they never have to learn time management, but that is just a hand full of people. In time management, it is important to get things done but also remembering to take time for yourself and “recharge your batteries”. Every one of us has their own individual way of time management and doing things, some of us can handle a lot more pressure than others do and others need more time for themselves between important tasks. If you feel like all you do is sleep and do mandatory tasks here are a few tips on how to start practicing time management

  • Find out where you are using your time, for example by writing down everything you do and the time you use to do it
  • Use a calendar or other scheduling applications to plan your use of time
  • Make a list of things that are important to you and make sure they are in line with your goals
  • When starting new things think about what you’re getting yourself into, learn to say no
  • Time management requires a lot of self-control, don’t let distractions take your focus away from important things
  • Value your time, you don’t have to be as productive everyday

The reason why I’m writing about time management in this blog is simply because the gaming industry is one of those fields where surprises are a guarantee and things don’t always go as planned. I myself as a person who has already experience from work life and have worked while studying thought I was good at time management. After this project, I can say everyone has his or her limits. After this project, I can say my limit came when I was involved in a project where I had to learn everything from the scratch. The simplest of tasks took out a lot of time, for example asking questions from team members or trying to find out how long it takes to code a moving character into a game or the characters clothing or equipment. Another challenge was that I’m used to working and studying alone, when it is enough that you manage your own use of time. Now I was working in a team where I had to be able to manage the use of time for about ten people. In a group of ten, people used to managing time differently, as I said people manage time differently. At this point, I realized that different scheduling and time management apps are necessary, or at least very helpful. Using these applications does take time, but they help you remember different tasks and the reminders motivate to get them done. 

How to choose a project management method suited for your team?

When choosing a project management method, it helps to choose one you’re already familiar with or something that has proven to be efficient and easy to use. There are also other criteria to take into notice when making this decision, as in:

  • Organizations/Projects core values
  • Projects main business goals (if there are any)
  • Projects main limitations like time, resources, quality and money
  • Stakeholders
  • Risks
  • Complicity
  • Size of the project

Not every application or method works with every project. Some methods are supposed to work with specific types of projects, applications even more so.

Choosing the right method is important because, where a simple task can be done out of the way, a long productive project is a whole another thing. Earlier I wrote about different reasons why to learn time management; well the same reasons apply for project management. Projects consist of different types of people and usually people tend to have a lot more on their plates than just the one project. The biggest questions you have to ask when starting a project could be: 

  1. Do we start immediately or set a start date for later? This is important when choosing a project management method, so you know how long you have for preparations 
  2. Do we divide the project into segments or handle it as a whole? Sometimes projects are divided into multiple smaller projects because of different set of skills needed for different segments 
  3. Who does what? You should give people their own remit, so that responsibility is divided somewhat equally and people tend to make sure they fulfill their responsibilities 
  4. Are some tasks dependent on others? Project manager has to take this into consideration when scheduling a project, you can’t plan a task for a person if it is dependent of others input  

In conclusion, may this blog be a mere scratch of the surface into choosing creative methods and time management. Many may have questions about different ways to manage projects or managing their own or teams’ use of time. These are things that everyone has to think about themselves and find methods best suited for them. The purpose of this blog is to tell that there are options and information about these can be found on the internet.

References (in Finnish)

  1. (2.11.2019)
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