The 3rd Nordic Neuroscience Meeting in Helsinki – Day 4

It’s Sat­ur­day in Helsin­ki and the fourth day of our trip to explore the North­ern Neu­ro­sciences. We are treat­ed to blue skies and are greet­ed by a flur­ry of sea gulls. Though the scene is idyl­lic, ten O’BRAIN­ers are on a mis­sion. This time, head­ing into the city cen­tre, the focus of our excur­sion shifts “inwards”, from broad neu­ro­science to intri­cate team dynam­ics. Fit­ting­ly, we are sched­uled to meet at Think Cor­ner, the uni­ver­si­ty’s own pub­lic (work­ing) space. Snug­gled into a wood­en, sauna-esque space, our first impres­sions of Helsin­ki begin to merge with abstract ideas that have been float­ing around for a few months already: as Annette is tak­ing up her new role as asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Helsin­ki, how will this new inter­na­tion­al per­spec­tive impact region­al­ly? How do we main­tain a large team when the ease of infor­mal drop-ins and hall­way chats fall away? Will we still expe­ri­ence (and con­tribute to) the mul­ti­ple lay­ers of team rela­tion­ships when our main chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion shifts to a dig­i­tal one? What are the logis­tics of inter­na­tion­al lead­er­ship anyway?

We return to these ques­tions at var­i­ous points through­out the day, sketch­ing out ideas and pos­si­ble solu­tions. It seems the open archi­tec­ture of the Finnish cap­i­tal frees the (hive) mind. It is sug­gest­ed we restruc­ture our dig­i­tal infra­struc­ture so that a “no attach­ment” pol­i­cy can be imple­ment­ed. This would allow a com­mon ground for all team mem­bers, with the added ben­e­fit of ver­sion con­trol. An enthu­si­as­tic nod rip­ples through the group. A pro­pos­al to shift our com­mu­ni­ca­tion style from prob­lem-based to goal-ori­en­tat­ed finds excit­ed (and per­plexed) atten­tion. Instead of com­plain­ing that XYZ is not work­ing, the onus of com­ing up with solu­tions is shared across the sender and receiv­er. What an inter­est­ing take on lead­er­ship solu­tions. The impor­tance of clear agen­das and well-pre­pared meet­ings emerges. While sched­ules for team and indi­vid­ual meet­ings are drawn up, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion dif­fer­ent time zones, a notice­able sense of spread­ing and accept­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty tick­les the team members.

As ideas fly, sore points slow­ly dis­si­pate. These con­ver­sa­tions feel like “sci­ence in action”, with a bit of a twist: (self-) organ­i­sa­tion brings struc­ture to seem­ing­ly impen­e­tra­ble com­plex­i­ties, net­works (pos­si­bly neur­al) are widened, sys­tems to cap­ture the chaos emerge. After a long day, a vis­i­bly relaxed team fin­ish­es the day with a well-deserved drink and, as if the heav­ens know, we are reward­ed for our team efforts with a spec­tac­u­lar fly­over by the Fin­ish Air­Force, which shows off its high­ly skilled avi­a­tion abil­i­ties. What a day!

Suse Pre­jawa