The Polyhouse project is nothing like any other project I have ever been a part of. Despite all of the warnings from previous polyhousers, I could have never guessed the extent to which my boundaries and will would be tested. The experiences and lessons learned in this class truly surpassed my expectations. That being said, I can say with 100% confidence that this class was the most valuable experience I had this year, during my graduate studies. Throughout my career I know I will continue to reflect on all of the mini successes and skills that I developed.
It was made clear from the beginning that all of us would have to step outside of our comfort zone. Truer words have never been spoken. I personally have always been more of a reserved person. In group discussions, I would occasionally offer up my opinions, but only when conversation became stagnant. After going through Polyhouse, I realized that any idea or thought should be expressed, even if you are unsure about the quality or insightfulness. Rather, the point is to remove ego from your ideas and engage in creative and constructive debate. I find that I am always happier and more positive when I do contribute, even if my ideas are not chosen as the best option. This is certainly an area will continue to work on, and Polyhouse has given me the foundation to do so.
On the other hand, one of my greatest strengths is a hard worker mentality. I have always been known as a workhorse among my peers and I am proud to say that I put everything I could into this project. I was extremely pleased and thoroughly impressed to see the same effort from all of my classmates as well. All of us agreed to the same scope, and through many long days and nights, we accomplished what we set out to do. Without the commitment and accountability that each person took in this project, there is no way that we could have accomplished this amazing feat. In addition, In addition, I was truly touched by the community members who rose to the challenge and supported us with food, materials, labor, and monetary donations.
I will say that there were certain moments where I doubted the professionalism of some of my team members; however, this is a natural occurrence in a learning environment and I feel that we have all grown in that respect. All of us have learned our own lessons as well and there is no need in dwelling on the little mishaps, but I would like to point out the main source of these problems. In my opinion, all issues were caused by failures to communicate, both within and among teams.
There were instances within my own team where one specific individual consistently appeared to be a couple pages behind us. This person may have felt a little out of place because they were not familiar with the type of work we were setting out to do. Our PM, Nick, did his best to include this person; however, the preference of this individual seemed to be to communicate through email. I have learned through this project and other projects at Cal Poly that this is no substitute for face-to-face communication. If someone is uncomfortable in group situations then one on one should be used; however, it is vital for the individual to learn to actively participate in group discussions. This I feel is something that should be strongly encouraged next year to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The inter-team conflicts were also at the fault of miscommunication, and lack of communication for that matter. I understand that it would be a lot to manage, but I feel that the class PM’s should take a more active role in getting teams together to discuss any issues. I think a lot of bickering and speculating about who is working and who is not could have been eased by face-to-face communication.
All in all, we should be very proud of what we have accomplished here. It was an honor to have been able to work on such a prestigious and rewarding project, and who better than the Todd family to receive such a gift. Thank you Liz for making this project possible, I am very glad to have met you this year. I made about 20 new friends this quarter, which alone is pretty amazing.