At 19th of January 2013 Tiimiakatemia Finland is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary. Various stories are shared for celebrating this big journey of 20 years: there’s a book being written about Team Academy in English, Portuguese and Finnish, and right about now the Tiimiakatemia Learning Network, a network of professional Team Coaches trained by Team Academy, publishes a magazine with the stories of beginnings and the actual state of different TA’s around the world. For getting a hint of why and how the organizations all around the world have started to use the Team Academy method, here’s one story from the network, from Labein Tecnalia, BIlbao, Basque Country, Spain.
Happy new year to all Tiimiakatemia Learning Network!! Let us share this: Team Academy Euskadi, reflections on our story (by Javier Ruiz)
Javier Ruiz, the writer of this story, is the man on the left. The other people belong to the Team Academy Euskadi early stage team and are: Tatu Tuohimetsä, Nieves Peña, Ulla Luukas, Sari Veripää, Ville Keränen and Javier Mendibil. Picture is taken at Playa de Barrika in Bilbao, Spain.
Team Academy Euskadi was born of a mixture of coincidences, vision and commitment of some people who worked together at Labein Tecnalia in the years 2004-2008.
While several technological centers were clustered around the project of creating Tecnalia as a technology corporation of international projection, a group of researchers and managers who worked within the field of organizational innovation got interested since 2001 by the models of organizational learning that Peter Senge described in his book “The Fifth Discipline” ten years before.
After several trips to Boston, visiting MIT, Sloan School of Management and the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), it was in May 2004 when we had the privilege of working with Peter Senge in Tecnalia during a full day. Among the ideas and references that we considered, Team Academy Finland was mentioned as one of the few organizations that had put into practice the ideas of “The Fifth Discipline” since 1993. “Go and visit this unique school of entrepreneurs. You’ll find the inspiration to follow your own path of learning and innovative creation here, in the Basque Country”, said Peter. Also, in the course of an international collaborative project we conducted with researchers from Tecnalia, Antonio Linares, an organizational psychologist with a long professional career and prestige told us of Team Academy as the focus of a new kind of entrepreneurs,
With these matches, or synchronicities, in October 2004 Alfonso Longo, by that time Deputy Director of Labein Tecnalia, and I embarked to Jyväskylä joining a learning expedition organized by SoL France, and headed by Etienne Collignon, President of this association and manager in the company Solvay.
It is in this point where I have to go deeper in my personal experience to explain why that trip was so inspiring to me. Because sometimes in life we go through special experiences that mark a change in direction, sometimes initially imperceptible, which lead us to unexpected places.
I think it was a combination of factors: interesting and open-minded travel mates, along with a well-designed agenda that allowed us to understand Team Academy beyond the surface, going deep in his essence and creative dynamics. All that made a different adventure of the trip, an atypical business trip where I clearly understood some important experiences in my own personal story read as the key to the future.
Those youngsters who were in charge of organizing our learning expedition, like Johanna Kangas who picked us up at Jyväskylä airport full of snow, and Ville Keranen who, in his second week at Team Academy, facilitated a great workshop of creative play, or many other student-entrepreneurs (teampreneurs) that I met made me realize that we were participating in an unprecedented experience. In that Learning Lab those young students-entrepreneurs were developing innovative leadership competencies with extraordinary potential to really transform the business world and the society. Some of the skills they showed in those meetings I attended were much higher or better than mine, being twice their age, and uncommon in the business world I knew.
I mean for example the creative dynamics to see customers’ problems from other point of view, the positive and constructive attitudes in all the meetings, the ability to identify the latest concepts and theories read in the business management literature and put them into practice in projects, questioning and overcoming theories with their contextual experiences. In short, I refer to their purely entrepreneurial DNA, always living the values in which they believed and they practiced at Team Academy. I guess all that stirred something in my personal story. But more than a return to the past, this trip helped me to visualize other possible future, a transformation in the way of working in a knowledge based society, beyond the industrial era and its mechanistic organization of work.
But it was not only a personal introspective experience, but rather a collective journey of exploration. It was the beginning of a period of constructive dialogue and work with my team in Labein Tecnalia and with other partners that made possible the creation of Team Academy Euskadi as a laboratory for experimentation and learning around the innovative leadership and the creation of team entrepreneurs.
Because the future we need to build, like Team Academy, is about creating spaces of transition from the old mechanical organization and its leadership and ways of organizing work, toward living networks of collaboration, where the phenomena of emergence and self-organization, which are natural to all living systems, show all their potential and transform deeply the relationships and the organization of work.