Imagine seeing the following at an international conference: over a hundred people cheering the above sentence, moving like penguins and huddled together in a very tight group just like the male penguins in Antarctica who face months of the hardest winter on earth together.
This setting was one of the crystallizations of co-created knowledge of the Team Mastery Arena / SoL Conference this week in Jyväskylä. Theme of the two day conference was ‘New Trails for Leadership’ and a team of Team Academy undergraduates started the conference with spectacular play based on Kotter’s and Rethgeber’s book Our Iceberg is Melting. During the conference we discussed a lot about change, leadership, vision, meaningfulness and authenticity.
I could write a separate blog post about each of these topics based on the insights I got but in this post I will concentrate more one issue that actually made me start this blog.
So I’d like to welcome you all to Magical uplift! This term is often used by the famous Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen to describe a moment when people’s visions coincide and lead to them to achieve something remarkable. I don’t think I can set a better target for my blog.
What was especially remarkable about the conference was the welcoming, positive and open feeling that seemed to be shared between all participants right from the start. I’ve never been at a conference where absolutely everyone can go and talk with anyone and have a inspiring discussion right away. First-year students though Nokia executives. The presence and authenticity of everyone was quite amazing. No-one seemed to hold back or hide anything. I think it was Anne-Liisa Palmu-Joronen who said “Authentic people can’t be manipulated.”
This feeling of openness is related to another important concept in the new leadership that came up many times during the conference: co-creation. I think this time I finally understood the concept. Earlier I’ve heard this concept as ‘yhteistuotanto’ in Finnish, which is ‘co-production’ directly translated. And I haven’t seen how to really apply it, because in co-production the other party has already created something. It’s nice to do or produce something but real meaning for people comes from creating something. I think Johan Löfman and Mia Aittola described co-creation best by saying:
In a compromise everyone gains some and loses some but it’s easy to live with. In co-creation people search for the true essence of an issue and discard the original shape and form. It’s hard to do but great to live with.
I’ve never been at any conference or event with this kind of feeling of connectedness. The openness and connectedness facilitated fantastic networking. I learned more than ever from the dozens of discussions I had with different people and met some people I will certainly collaborate with in the future. Having Team Academy’s international network present at the conference was definitely part of the charm as they provided different perspectives for the discussions and teamwork. I would have needed a third day just for networking and many others said the same thing.
So what made this conference so special? Was it the people, the methods, the topics, the setting or what? The participants shared a common understanding about the theme already before the conference. The methods for audience’s participation were fun, involving, even extravagant at times. The setting was very informal and unconference-like; many felt like coming home. It was really a get-together of the Team Academy tribe – and I think that made it special in the end.
This tribe should also be ours at ProAcademy! I got some pretty harsh feedback on Friday from some members of my team at ProAcademy about the priorities of the our coaches myself included. They felt coaches were too much involved in various projects developing ProAcademy – projects they didn’t know anything about with networks we weren’t sharing. And in a way this is true.
Of course we are not holding our students back from joining the Team Academy networks’ activities like this conference or interacting with their international networks but I think we have failed to communicate what they can learn and benefit from these experiences. Not taking part in this network, our students are losing huge growth potential!
The second part in the critic comes from some outdated leadership practices. I think we’ve been part of the old paradigm in the way that we haven’t really involved the students in preparing the big development projects. We’ve brought them forth when the projects have started and involved the students then. This is co-production, not co-creation (or very coach-like behavior in any case). New interesting possibilities and development projects are also coming at such a rate that we can’t participate in them without jeopardizing our presence with our student teams.
I’ve been telling all of our guests and visitors that the board (jory) is the main decision-making body and it ensures that the students are part of all decisions. Now I realize that it is exactly that, a decision-making body, but it doesn’t have much to do with leadership. Not all the important things come up in the board meetings, only things which are easy to decide on.
We just celebrated our wonderful 10-year journey to where we are now – a strong, inspiring and constantly developing community of people who share a great vision and future-ready beliefs about learning, teams and entrepreneurship.
To take the next big steps, we need to challenge our current thinking and be ready to change. We need some magical uplift and the first step for that is building trust.
At least for the moment, I will not limit the blog into any particular topic or issues but will write about things I find interesting and important. I work as a coach at TAMK ProAcademy (which is quite evident from the blog) but I write this blog as a private individual and I don’t represent my organization officially.
I encourage everyone to comment and discuss the entries if you agree, disagree, can develop ideas further, share something related or just wish to comment for any reason. I really want to hear your thoughts! If these entries don’t stir any discussion, the blog is unnecessary.
I won’t moderate the comments before they are published but comments with coarse language, personal insults to anyone, etc. will be removed.