And this is my story:
“The most challenging situation at Tiimiakatemia may well be when a member is expelled from his or her team. Personal Relationships are the foundation of all our operations and one of our values. Most often when a team is started, the members don’t know each other. They work in the same team for three and a half years, so they always get to know each other. Many of our learners make life-long friends.
We recognize that our way of working isn’t suitable for everyone. Above all, you have to be an active learner, because learning takes place through the team companies. Commitment to the team and its often challenging objectives is a joyful challenge. But what do you do if a learner doesn’t commit? If he or she doesn’t work in projects or find customers, or is often absent from training sessions, doesn’t read, and is a ‘difficult case’ for the team? Who is the authority who can intervene?
Teams are very understanding. Teams listen to friends in trouble and try to encourage them in every possible way. Teams give them time to make things right, trust them, and believe that everything will turn out for the best. But what if nothing changes? The team member doesn’t change his or her ways. Discipline comes from the team, and team members are authorities to each other. How long should a team tolerate someone who is not pulling their own weight? Diversity is accepted, and teams don’t try to make clones. There is plenty of freedom. But freedom brings responsibility, and everyone must do their job. Otherwise the team’s development and work are heavily disturbed. You have to commit to the objectives. Otherwise no learning can happen.
Throughout the history of Tiimiakatemia, many learners have closed the door behind them for good before graduating. They have most often been nice people, but often also free riders and pseudo team members. In our experience, teams function a lot better when members who have hindered it are gone. It creates a new state of flow.
Leaving a team is always sad: I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go. It can happen in harmony, from the member’s own initiative. But people have also been expelled. Who has the right to do this? Teams are co-operatives, independent legal units owned by the team members. The university has no authority over them. Each company can define its own grounds for expelling a member. Teams are led according to their values, objectives and goals. Everyone has to commit to them, since everyone can participate in creating them. The ground rules are created together, and everyone promises to follow them.
The university or Tiimiakatemia cannot expel anyone. The law guarantees significant rights for students, and the grounds for expulsion must be extremely serious. That’s why a learner expelled from a team is still officially a student of the University of Applied Sciences. Studies have to progress at a certain speed, for example, for learners to stay eligible for study grants. If they stall, coaches have to intervene and guide the learner.
Resigned or expelled team members can, in theory, still be learners of Tiimiakatemia, but where can we find positions for them? Learning here takes place through the team companies, so we can’t offer them other places to study. They’re on empty. Learners who have tried to study on their own at Tiimiakatemia haven’t been successful. Learners need the support, discipline, and encouragement of the team. In practice, it’s better for them to apply for studies in the other business-related training programs of the University of Applied Sciences. Our experiences of this have been positive – most of the students have graduated this way. Of course the learner can get a job and apply for other schools in the spring.
So a team can expel a member if the situation demands it. However, it’s the last alternative, and it should be done as carefully as possible, respecting the team member. This is an extreme challenge for the peers, but we haven’t found an alternative. Hopefully we’ll find one someday.”