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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Learning Journey 2: Reflection about Summer Academy

Kirjoittanut: Jemina Laitinen - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

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This essay is a reflection on Summer Academy 2023, which was a part of Flip Solution’s learning journey. Summer Academy was organized as an innovation challenge with Innokick program students from Switzerland and therefore provided a great international challenge. Team members from Flip were divided into separate groups a maximum of two persons from Flip were together with five to six Innokick students. The challenge was five days long, including activities to get to know the team, innovation assignments from customers, written rapport, contacting the customer and presentation as a pitch.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate on the first day of the challenge, so when I joined my team, I didn’t know about the task or who my teammates were. I assumed that the team had been organized into roles including for example picking up the leader of the project. I was surprised to notice, that any roles including the leader, weren’t picked and the team had decided to work as a flat organized. That was interesting in the sense that we at Proakatemia have been used to organize the team at the beginning of any project and challenge to be more organized. Additionally, selecting a leader has been highlighted and emphasized during the Proakatemia journey all the time, so it has been instilled, at least, in my head. However, my team had decided to work without a leader and I needed to accept that since I wasn’t present at the beginning of the challenge.

For me, working as a flat organized was challenging since no one was in charge and therefore there wasn’t anyone to actually inform me about the insights of the task, what had been done till I joined the team and what would be my responsibilities and tasks during the challenge. Of course, the team was presenting themselves including telling what is the task and what ideas were taken forward, however, it seemed to be a bit blurry.

One big challenge and obstacle in our team was the language policy since team members from Switzerland preferred to speak and communicate in French and my teammate from Flip was not able to speak French. This was, in my eyes, the most crucial challenge in our team because it made communication lacking badly. I am assuming, that the reason for hesitating to communicate in English was the uncertainty towards English as a language and some kind of afraid of speaking in English. Sadly, these are just assumptions since we weren’t able to communicate this openly and therefore true team spirit and teamwork weren’t achieved during the challenge.

Our team succeeded in delivering our rapport and solution properly, and communicating with customers nicely, which are things that went well in the challenge. Communication could be improved easily, but in this challenge, the language ended up being a huge barrier for us. Something I learned during the week is, that how important it is to have a leader or someone who overviews the work and process, as well as taking every team member accountable. I don’t know if it would make any difference in language barriers at the end, but at least it might cause some team spirit and solidity in the team.

Something I learned as well, was that in general Innokick students seemed to prefer working without a leader in the team. This was noticed in many teams during Summer Academy. Something to keep in mind when working in a multicultural team with new people is that it would be valuable to have a chat first about thoughts about teamwork, how to organize, what leadership means to different people and what means to have a leader in the project. Of course, this would be a different case if the project were longer, and something to think about further in the future is, if working in this kind of short-term innovation challenge, how to communicate and be organized as efficiently as possible in the atmosphere of team spirit when there might not be a fluent common language and communication model, and people have different expectations about working models and how to execute the task.

Summer Academy provided an interesting experience of cooperation with students from Switzerland, and therefore valuable learnings about working in multicultural teams with different working models.

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