Last week I had the pleasure of spending three days in Finland with some of our Nokia clients and a few folks from fellow agency RG/A. After spending Wednesday night in Helsinki – via spending €6 on some mineral water, €12 on a salami sandwich and enjoying some reindeer for breakfast – we headed off from Nokia House to Vanajanlinna, a building that is officially (but maybe inaccurately) described as a castle (what constitutes a castle anyway?) located a couple of hours north of the capital.
Billed as a ‘team building’ event I was naturally cautious (in really rather British way), mainly as we had been forwarned that our facilitator was Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen, famed across the country for his regular TV appearances and noted “for his colourful style and personal approach”. (He lived up to his billing too, sporting an interesting leopard-skin print jacket and tie for the entire two-day event).
It quickly transpired that Esa’s modus operandi was basically to lecture solidly – with brief interludes of hugging and ‘power discussing’ – for not insignificant lengths of time, meandering around dramatic personal anecdotes to deliver points of view around positivity, systems intelligence, and collaboration. Not quite the snowmobiling and saunaing that I’d been expecting. And yet, against all odds, it was actually really rather good.
Lessons were learned, bonds were formed, beers were drunk and tears were shed (seriously – Esa’s a man not afraid to publicly air his emotions), but ultimately I came away with a real sense of positivity and feeling generally inspired about how we can change the world. Perhaps. And for a cynic like me, that’s pretty damn good going.
And just to prove it, here’s a pic of myself (right of picture), Esa and Richard Summers (fellow W+K planning type) living the positive one-team dream:
Mad. In a very good way.
The big question is: what can brands learn from it all?