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!