Running a FRC team has many aspects of a modern business, especially a startup. During all but 6 weeks of the year, the product of the team is uncertain. The funding sources are not always adequate for the plans. Many of the modern business techniques can be applied to to running a FRC team. Just last year the FRC team "planned and forecasted", "just did it" and "built-measured-learned."
If the FRC team is a start up then by Eric Ries's definition "entrepreneurship includes anyone who works within my definition of a startup." The team depends on innovation for to grow. The innovation is product (robot) related or more importantly it includes less direct activities such pit layout, scouting techniques and selling yourself and your team. For this innovation to flourish, the entire team is and needs to think like entrepreneurs.
Productivity is the effectiveness of effort. Productivity for an FRC team should focus on getting hardware built early. Modeling common components in the off season helps a design team be more productive during the modeling of the robot in the season, reuse of code increases the productivity of programmers. Tools such as visualization software or drawings increase the productivity during the assembly of the robot.
The team had missed levels of productivity. Making a wood base was an activity that lead to productivity as it allowed the other sub teams to start their work. In other areas, a build-measure-learn approach has the potential to increase productivity.
IMVU's base assumption was that IM users wanted an application that could work across all their different social networks. The customers acted negatively to crossing their different social networks. It is easy in hind site so suggest launching a low quality prototype early but that would have reduced the cost and increased the cycle time of learning.
The design of the robot has many unknown aspects. The team did some great things like using aluminum rods to get a feeling if the towers would be strong enough. Once a need for a tower was determined, experiments to determine how strong the vertical structure needed to be could have been performed prior to any CAD modeling. Separating into a lift and power train design team may have reduced the rework of the drive system as the lifting system was designed.
Zappos's hypothesis was that customers would purchase shoes online. In a very clever idea, Zappos kept their test of the hypothesis extremely simple by procuring shoes from a local show store. Simplifying the procurement of the shoes allowed Zappos to focus on the customer experience while minimizing the initial capital cost of procuring product and decreased the cycle time of performing tests due to eliminating the procurement lead time.