How it works
Aušra Gaivenienė, a business consultant and lecturer at Vilnius Business College, talks about the new method.
“As a business consultant and manager, I notice, in quite many innovative companies, the changes in work organization and team management methods, which form naturally in search of more effective solutions and in pursue of better results. I really feel excited that in present-day Lithuania there appear educational institutions, which not only follow the new global trends, but also put those innovations into practice to ensure effectiveness and high quality in learning. I think that the learning method in focus, chosen for the business management studies – Team Academy methodology (created and developed in Finland and taught across many other countries) is exactly the very method to provide the required business management skills, develop entrepreneurship competencies and assure self-realization right from the start of studies, and not after completing the course of studies”, says Gaiveniene.
When talking about the advantages of this method of studies, the VBC lecturer emphasizes that it obligates to give up the traditional student sitting behind a desk, often by merely ‘watching the backs of others’, because in this methodology, teamwork is at the basis of studying. In using the Team Academy method, the learning process happens through actual experience: students create businesses at the very beginning of their studies and manage them according to the business process practices in real companies. This way, students have a chance to earn money and use it for travel to other countries where Team Academy also operates. Also, they have unique opportunities to explore the markets of other countries, their culture and business functioning conditions, possibly, even start an international business. Such experience is especially valuable, because it shapes a global outlook and advances business expansion. This learning method encourages independence, initiative, motivation and personal responsibility for one’s own actions taken. Team Academy method is directed towards sustainable, socially responsible business and balanced leadership which inspires the spirit of dynamic teamwork and team leadership that doesn’t revolve around one single leader. It’s a great chance to discover and understand your personal strengths and weaknesses and what sort of competencies need to be developed to achieve desirable results. By working individually and in teams, with professional lecturers and coachers, personal competence development plans are created and implemented. Students gain leadership, teamwork, conflict management, communal, loyalty, flexibility, responsibility and other competencies necessary for the formation of a well-rounded professional. By resolving actual business problems, students test in practice the skills required for business management, whereas the answers to any arising questions are found in carefully selected literature, which offers professional knowledge and guidance in marketing, finance, law, psychology etc.
While presenting Team Academy method, Aušra Gaivenienė points out that this learning method has certain mandatory evaluation criteria. In all 15 countries where the method is actively used by nearly 40 business and educational institutions, the work is based on The Rocket Model™ methodology. This system has been created to improve and strengthen the quality of teamwork. Another mandatory component is specifically furbished learning areas. For learning to meet the Team Academy standards, appropriate surroundings are necessary. Students have coined a term for themselves – teampreneurs, who gather to work in modern open teamwork areas. Teampreneurs follow the same rules across all countries: extensive reading of specialized literature and team sharing of acquired knowledge. They discuss, analyze and apply the obtained knowledge to actual projects.
Considering the laws, education systems, financial possibilities and cultural aspects of specific countries, some differences are evident. In many countries, the studies based on Team Academy methodology are subject to tuition fee as the equipment and application of resources requires significant investment. However, in Finland (where the method was pioneered) such studies are funded by the government. Graduates of TA based study programs in Finland are more likely to find employment or start their own business as compared to the graduates of traditional study programs. That has been proven by the recognition of high-level study quality and numerous national awards, e.g. Quality Award presented by the Ministry of Education of Finland.
Lecturer Aušra Gaivenienė is confident that TA learning method is very supportive of business and education collaborations as well as of the development of joint structures, like business incubators, business hives and hubs, all of which drive the young budding professionals into the market much faster.
At the same time, she emphasizes that, as practice has already shown, not every entrepreneur is a graduate of their field and not every business management graduate becomes a successful entrepreneur. And it is only natural since entrepreneurship isn’t just a science. Practical training is pivotal, as well as the gradually-acquired understanding of how knowledge is selected and applied in each separate situation, and it goes hand in hand with the development of necessary competencies. Therefore, in training entrepreneurs and managers, it is important to incorporate not only theoretical subjects, but also to foster the entrepreneurship skills which comprise many different components, and many of those can only be acquired by putting theoretical knowledge to practice. Also, we should not ignore the fact that, as both research and practice have proven, traditional methods of teaching do not often yield desirable results when it comes to maintaining the attention of young people throughout a course of studies. Inclusion into the learning process, genuine practice, discussions and teamwork is all that motivates and encourages better progress and achievement.
It is important to note that, in Team Academy teaching methodology, one learns from their mistakes and failures. In this way, such important personality qualities as persistence, resilience, goal orientation etc. are developed. A true entrepreneur is not afraid of taking risks or accepting responsibility, he or she is not afraid even of failure as they appreciate mistakes as lessons from which they can learn and continue striving towards their utmost goal despite all problems and challenges they will inevitably have to face. It is the methodology for the individual who is eager to build one’s future and feels responsible for it.