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Two’s company, three’s a team – Making it all work!

February 8, 2009 - 2 Comments

From those registered to participate in the Cisco ‘Think Inside the Box’ Developer Contest, among the most frequent questions we’ve received of a non-technical nature have to do with two aspects (i) Intellectual property and (ii) Team composition.Given the nature of the contest, questions on intellectual property are highly understandable. We’ve tried to clarify the variations on IP through individual responses via e-mail, and also put on a blog on it some time ago. See “A Question of IP”imageAgain, questions on team structure and composition are also very natural and several variations have resulted, including:• Can we change our team composition midway through the contest?• Can I add more members to the team?• Do I need a team? What should be the profile of the team members?• What if there are more than 3 team members?• Can a company submit its IP for this contest? What if extended team members have worked on the concept?• Can we have team members across different geographies?• Can a team submit multiple proposals?• And quite a few others of a similar nature…As with any contest, the variations to accommodate the requirements of the select few have to be balanced with the ability to operationally administer a contest for the broader populace. The answers to most of the questions can be found in the terms and conditions.While the nuances of team composition and dynamics are different with each team, a team will benefit from bringing in different perspectives into the play. While the contest is primarily for application developers, these applications reside on the Integrated Services Router which performs a pivotal role in branch networks. So, understanding the branch problem space, and applications therein are likely to help you provide better proposals that are not only innovative, but practical as well. Cisco’s Dave Frampton suggested as much, a previous blog. We’ve predominantly found two constituents who approach this contest, often from opposite ends of the spectrum, but they end up finding middle ground. The first set is that of Linux programmers and application developers. The second is Network and IT solution architects. On the contest website, you’ll find some approaches to both sets alongwith some resources that provide complementary perspectives.Some individuals want to go alone, and not want to split the prize money, should they win. Of course, this is entirely possible and all the more power to such individuals. While it is possible for an individual to wear multiple hats, it does help to bring in people with the relevant domain expertise in some capacity within your team. Not mandatory, but practical.In the end, whatever the team composition, what will work is for you to keep the dynamics within your team positive, and keep the interaction ongoing. When in doubt about the contest logistics, team structure, or a technical query to formulate your proposal, you may feel free to reach out to us. Respond with your questions and comments on the Innovation Blog, use our developer forums or just e-mail us at “”. Our teams are usually quick to respond. They call themselves the contest concierge.

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  1. Basics are always good. If you’ve a well-rounded team, you’re certainly in luck. We find that to be the exception than the rule. Good luck!

  2. The team structure guidelines are quite helpful. Fortunately, our team has well rounded developers. We are supplementing our knowledge through Cisco publications. Re-learning basic from high school.