How 10 different people from Open Innovation & Intrapreneurship master’s program became a team in 1 year?

I’ve been doing master’s on Open Innovation & Intrapreneurship in MINN of Mondragon Tiimiakatemia for the last year, and one of the methods used in it was that after each monthly session we make reflection paper of something. Now the task of it was this: ”Write a reflection paper on MINNteam entrepreneurial team development, including crystallization on what elements made the MINNteam evolve to a real team during this year and how these learnings/elements/actions could be applied to the teams of our own intrapreneurial projects?”

I decided to blog this reflection paper, since MINN is all about open innovation, and who could call it open if I just write for our MINNteam and for our coaches? So here’s to you, a reflection of the elements that made us grow into a team during the year of 11 meetings in 7 different places around the world.

The core elements of MINN evolving into a real team – my top 6 list

1. Finland session January 2011 – A takeoff for the roller coaster year & 1st challenging video together as a common challenge

We started our journey in Finland in January 2011 by visiting head of Nokia’s crowd sourcing, Pia Erkinheimo. Pia was a sharp lady talking about the worldwide markets and the meeting with her left us with a thought: could we possibly support Nokia with Open Innovation  & crowd sourcing while we go around the world with MINN? We even made a video proposal for that on the same day, and it was not easy. ”What could we sell as a minnteam?”, we asked ourselves. The most memorable thing we got out of the session was Pia’s kind and firm handshake that was guiding our behavior in all the tough moments on the rest of the year! From Helsinki we continued to Jyväskylä, and there Taulun Kartano, sauna, jacuzzi & mortal jumps on snow made Finland a wonderful experience for all the MINNERS and created a base for our roller coaster year to start.

2. Orio session – team complete

March 2011 we met in Orio, Basque Country. There 3 new people: Ander, Santi & Jordi joined MINN and the team became complete. A session was weird, included for example biodance & meditation, as well as a lot of personal reflection, but it worked fine for teaming up. Finally we made a birth giving for the big Spanish retail shop chain Eroski at Eutokia and I still remember how we implemented all the things we had learned in Orio instead of implementing all the things we had learned in life before Orio. Maybe Orio touched us so deeply? 

3. Learning Journeys & shared experiences: Finland, San Francisco & Chindia 

Traveling together always helps team to team up. April 2011 we had a week-long Learning Journey in San Francisco & Silicon Valley, and the homework was to make a pitch of our own project and present it for investors at Hub SoMa. The pitching event made us see each other’s work clearly and strongly. I believe that very afternoon in San Francisco in front of the investors caused a big step in our teaming up. There we were real, vulnerable ourselves, maybe for the first time with MINNTEAM.

#minnteam BG @Aalto Design Factory at Tongi Uni, Shanghai.

October 2011 we made a two-weeks-long Chindia Learning Journey, and there the element of growing most as a team was Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. It was a touching experience for the team. Everyone got to the uncomfort zone when seeing all those people with totally poor conditions that none of them had chosen but the life had given to them. Our job was to help feeding these people and to give them care and love. Personally I was inspired to caress the hair of all the ladies, and as soon as I got the brush I got shocked too: the hair of the lady I approached was full of bleaches. Same thing with the lady on her right, and on her left! At night we went to sleep at Paragon hostel, that seemed to be full of bleaches too, but luckily was not. Paragon has been in our minds ever since and after India we’ve been more a team than ever.

4. Birthgivings: Birthgiving is a process of creating and crystalizing new knowledge and it’s one of the main learning tools in Tiimiakatemia. We made birthgivings in the end of every session, and to summarize the TOP3 I refer to the ones at Hub Madrid, Shanghai Aalto DF and Mondragon University’s main campus Onãti.

February 2011 in Madrid our birthgiving under the theme of co-creating with customers was sensational! We created a great tool called cook-creation for enhancing the co-creation with customers. We invented an open client-relation barometer too. In the end we made money with this birth giving by asking who sees value in us and wants to invest on #minnteam. More than 20 people out of 40 wanted to! We succeeded as a team and created an innovative & easy tool around relationships & cooking & relationships in no time.

October 2011 in Shanghai we had spent a day with Peter Senge at Taihu Great Learning Center and we gave birth with the question: ”Zhong young is MINN, what do we want to accomplish?” The result was a great China-inspired learning session with 60-80 students of Aalto Design Factory @Tongi University. A minner Inigo Blanco has made a great reflective post about the knowledge created in that BG in his blog whitekaos.

December 2011 the birth giving happened with our intrapreneurial project teams that came to work with minners from each participating company: NRG, Init, The Hub Gipuzkoa, Danobat, Gaia, Monkey Business, Eroski, Tiimiakatemia and the question was: Why? Why? Why? – Why I’m doing this? – Why are we doing it / why this team exists? Why this project / company exists? And second question: What are the results this project is going to present by July 2012? All teams were making effort to present these fundamental things for the community of all the 60 MINN-intrapreneurs in Mondragon Tiimiakatemia’s main campus at Onãti. Our MINN team coach Jose Mari cried in the end, so touching it was to see the teams working for the cause that matters: our intrapreneurial projects. Of course his work as a team coach together with Anita had a strong effect on our team development: no team develops as fast as a coached team.

5. Twitter & box & informal meetings, parties and phone calls

#minnteam has been our reference in twitter, and anytime I wanted to see what’s up with our team or when I wanted to announce something for our team I did it there. has been our tool for sharing for essays & reflection papers. Useful for reading my teammates reflections, but we should blog them more openly. However I thin that the box has to improve in openess, and maybe  for example an open blog would have been a better option for our sharing.

In Madrid we partied together, and in Jyväskylä too. Parties always do good for team spirit!

6. Dialogue: We discovered dialogue really just in India after 9 months of the journey together. Dialogue between us and projects between our fascinating participating companies would take MINNTEAM to totally new level! Now we are on the way there as we have realized this. We had quite good dialogue in Barcelona around the 360 team feedback  session already, but it really demands more practice, with a team like ours 800 hours would take us to good skills, according to the practical study made over 19 years in Tiimiakatemia. In MINN1 we did not really practice freely flowing dialogue more than 36 hours maybe. That we should practice more and also we should spend more time together as a team just talking about whatever where ever.

How these learnings/elements/actions could be applied to the teams of our own intrapreneurship projects?

Now Tatu and Ville from Monkey Business are participating to MINN with about 20 others – MINN is growing!

I think in our company we are implementing a lot of MINN / Tiimiakatemia tools and actions already. It’s natural for us because we are a Tiimiakatemia-born company. We are using dialogue, sharing everything online in our blog & dropbox & twitter & Facebook, and sometimes doing birthgivings too and of course tracking customer visits and sales.

Here’s my opinion on how we do with Monkeys in my 6-point checklist of elements and what we should improve:

1. Videos together – we started this by filming & editing a documentary: Monkeys Year 2011 and Insights About the Future.

2. Team complete – we should search for the skills we are missing and acknowledge the team we are, like Janne did well in his blog post about Monkey Business team for 2012 (post in Finnish here).

3. Learning Journeys – we should do more of Learning Journeys with Monkey Business as participants: Paphos seminar with a very influential Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen in summer 2012 maybe!

4. Birtgivings: why not doing more of birthgivings with/for our clients and for ourselves?

5. Sharing knowledge in online environments we handle ok in my opinion – we just need to keep exploring new tools and maybe start using Karmacracy too!

6. Dialogue – we are learning this every week 4 hours, we still need to learn to speak more directly and maybe change the setting of this dialogue session now that Monkey has grown from 6 to 8 people and sharing with 8 takes more time than sharing with 6.

Hopefully in 2012 this list will grow and MINN2 will rock and roll for totally new levels! In fact I’m sure about that. Let’s go!


With Yellow regards,

Henna Monkey


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