Our team – all people from all partner organizations working on Tolocar together – is the driving force behind the success of the Tolocar project. Together, we faced a multitude of challenges, first and foremost of course the ongoing war which started with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and all its implications, from logistics to the mental health of our team members.

Some of the challenges our team faced were language barriers, remote work beyond the usual home office, and not having a blueprint for deploying a fleet of mobile makerspaces – it had simply never been done before on this scale. To overcome these obstacles, team members pooled their diverse skills, nurtured a culture of continuous learning, and fostered a collaborative spirit, all of which contributed to our project's accomplishments.

The consortium of partners is represented by a balance of engineers, social scientists, architects, economists, urban planners, and artists. This diversity of expertise is further complemented by a variety of genders and cultural backgrounds, where partners are united by their commitment to openness, creativity, and problem-solving. Embracing difference ensures our team can effectively tackle challenges and drive successful outcomes.

When it came to recruiting our team of operators, several key factors needed to be considered. First and foremost, it was important to seek individuals who are open-minded and willing to take risks. These qualities enable our operators to approach challenges with a constructive attitude, focusing on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Second was finding people who are effective learners, recognizing that technical skills can be developed more easily than a robust aptitude for learning. By prioritizing the recruitment of individuals who possess a combination of open-mindedness, willingness to take risks, a solution-oriented mindset, and the ability to learn effectively, you can build a team that is well-equipped to embrace new ideas, overcome obstacles, and ultimately reshape community engagement.

Qualities of a Tolocar Operator[edit | edit source]

We think it is important for practitioners who want to start mobile makerspace projects themselves to take a closer look at the qualities that make our operators stand out within the Tolocar team. Instead of assigning specific roles, we value a range of qualities that not only contribute to our project's success but also serve as valuable traits for operators in other mobile makerspaces. These qualities include innovative technological skills, effective leadership, inspiring mentorship, sound financial management, technical expertise, and clear communication. Each of these attributes plays a vital role in achieving Tolocar's goals and ensuring the project runs smoothly.

Visualization of the T-shaped qualities of a Tolocar operator
Visualization of the T-shaped qualities of a Tolocar operator

Innovative Problem Solving[edit | edit source]

Tolocar team members possess deep knowledge of software and hardware. With their ingenuity, they develop innovative solutions, repurpose technology creatively, and push boundaries in order to achieve project goals. The combination of expertise and collaboration with the whole team, as well as with partners and users, drives technological integration, and fosters a culture of innovation.

Effective Leadership for Successful Project Delivery[edit | edit source]

A culture of effective leadership permeates the team, as members skillfully plan, organize, and coordinate tasks, adeptly manage resources, and communicate with stakeholders. Their collective adaptability to changing circumstances and decisive decision-making drive projects to successful completion.

Inspiring Mentorship for Growth[edit | edit source]

Throughout the various workshops and trainings, Tolocar operators also act as mentors. They guide and facilitate learning for workshop participants, create engaging lessons, provide feedback, and nurture a positive learning environment. They inspire and motivate, impart knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and foster personal and academic growth, shaping the future of individuals and society.

Sound Financial Management[edit | edit source]

A financial administrator oversees and manages financial operations within Tolocar, including budgeting, financial reporting, cash flow management, and financial analysis. They ensure compliance with regulations, and provide guidance, but the operators on the ground manage the intervention-specific budgets.

Technical Expertise for Maintenance and Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

The team relies on the technical expertise of its members to maintain equipment and systems, ensuring their reliable operation. They troubleshoot issues, perform regular maintenance, in order to uphold a safe working environment. Their resourceful problem-solving and collaborative nature contribute to the smooth functioning and reliability of equipment and infrastructure.

Clear communication[edit | edit source]

The team acknowledges the importance of communication, with each member playing a pivotal role in facilitating communication that is clear and productive. They collectively ensure a seamless flow of information, manage public relations, and enhance brand reputation. Dedicated experts implement communication plans, manage PR, and enhance brand reputation in collaboration with partners and based on input from operators.

Insights and learnings[edit | edit source]

Put your self out there in professional networks[edit | edit source]

In the years prior to the Tolocar project, all partners have been actively engaging with local, regional and international (maker) networks, openly sharing their work and contributing to others’ projects, and attending relevant events and conferences. These connections and the relationships we built are not a prerequisite to designing a mobile makerspace project, but they allowed us to quickly identify potential new team members who possess the specific skills and passion necessary to contribute to the Tolocar project's success.

One person, different skills and roles[edit | edit source]

Our team members all have T-shaped skill sets. This metaphorical representation signifies a combination of deep expertise in a specific domain (vertical stem of the T) and a broader understanding across multiple areas (horizontal bar of the T). Everybody in Tolocar is a communicator, and has some technical expertise on at least one of our core topics.

Knowledge Sharing and Mutual Learning[edit | edit source]

Encouraging knowledge sharing among all project partners and within their teams promotes a dynamic learning environment. We take time to reflect on different activities together. Regular opportunities to exchange insights, best practices, and lessons learned help us elevate our collective expertise and fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Have a Clear Goal[edit | edit source]

Establishing a shared understanding of the project's purpose and each partner’s and team member's responsibilities helps us align our efforts and increases a sense of shared ownership and accountability.

Trust and Psychological Safety[edit | edit source]

Especially in Ukraine during the ongoing war, it is important to build trust among partners and team members by promoting a psychologically safe work environment. We rely on respectful dialogue, active listening, and constructive feedback. When team members feel safe to express their opinions and take calculated risks, it enhances collaboration and innovation.

Diversity and Inclusion[edit | edit source]

We strongly value and embrace diversity, recognizing the importance of incorporating varied perspectives, cultural and personal backgrounds, and areas of expertise to stimulate more creative solutions and enhance our decision-making processes. Our team on the ground in Ukraine currently lacks diversity in terms of gender and ethnicity, but it includes individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds, ages, and professional experiences.

Recognition[edit | edit source]

We recognize and respect each other, as well as the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves in again, this is particularly important during the war when things may not go as planned because of air strikes and other threats, but we believe it is always relevant. We acknowledge and appreciate everybody’s efforts and achievements, and celebrate milestones together.

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Authors Victoria Welzemann
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 28 pages link here
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Created November 27, 2023 by Paola Moreno
Modified January 19, 2024 by StandardWikitext bot
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