The Fast Expert Teams specialist network was formulated quickly to address a common challenge. In spring, these specialists had an educational journey towards network-based and virtual cooperation. Kirsimarja Blomqvist, Professor of Information Management at LUT University, took the initiative and became the leader of the network. Approximately one hundred specialists from different fields began to cooperate to develop solutions to ensure that Finland would not be paralysed by the impacts of the virus.
It has been important to be part of this cooperation. During the cooperation, some of the previous assumptions and experience acquired over the years in terms of network development, management, and the use of digital services gained new perspectives. With regard to building trust, in particular, it was interesting to note that trust was being built between specialists who did not know each other, also in virtual surroundings. We will report more on the fruits of this cooperation together with our partners during the spring.
COMPETENCE OF SPECIALISTS AND THE POWER OF COOPERATION
The importance of cross-border, network-based cooperation of specialists between teams and organisations has continuously increased. The challenges to be solved are so complex that the best expertise is rarely found in one team or organisation. More and more expertise is required in various fields and from various specialists, as well as the ability to cooperate in order to operate effectively.
We all know that specialist networks play a vital role in developing innovations, networks between companies, increasing cooperation between research, education and companies, and cooperation between private and public bodies or regional development. We are also familiar with the idea that we should have more cooperation and collaboration across organisational boundaries.
Combining the best skills and cooperation across organisational boundaries may, at best, generate experiences of relevance, social capital, and productive activities. Cooperation across organisational boundaries and multi-faceted dialogue are useful. It helps to identify the real problem and what we are actually solving.
SUCCESS FACTORS IN A SPECIALIST NETWORK
Working in specialist networks requires expertise, great interaction skills and the ability to work together. Network-based activities require leadership and joint direction. Someone needs to start cooperation, bring people together, and enable interaction and building of trust. Experience in developing networks has highlighted a few key factors in successful cooperation:
- A CLEAR COMMON GOAL. Time should be spent on building mutual understanding between the specialists and clarifying the common goals. What expertise can be found in the network? What kinds of goals and expectations does each of the specialists have? If the goal is good, each specialist within the network can see their own benefits and the shared goal. It is easier to commit to a goal that has been determined together, which is why determining a common goal with everyone included is important. Trust is being built from the beginning by working together and acting in a confidential, reciprocal, and respectful manner in trying to find a common solution.
- WORKING METHODS AGREED TOGETHER. It is essential to agree on operating methods, practices, and decision-making processes. Cooperation and joint development will be smooth and easy. Developing a digital cooperation culture is part of effective cooperation between specialists. The recent Human Capital Trends 2020 study highlighted the fact that companies have doubled their investments in technology over the past decade, but many companies have compromised in how to support their staff in adopting the new skills required in the work. When talking about using artificial intelligence, for example, the focus is mostly on the technology itself, not on how to develop expertise in order to get the most out of the technology. Technological know-how is important, but perhaps it is even more important to gain a better understanding of people’s behaviour and competence in the digital environment. In particular, innovative working structures are required to make digital work productive.
- COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION. Communication and effective interaction are key factors in carrying out network-based specialist work and in highlighting the results. The quality of interaction and the clarity of communication are important in making common goals, the significance of cooperation and achieved results apparent, and in maintaining a cooperative atmosphere. Trust is built in interactions between people. The impact of work is highlighted by means of communication.
DIGITAL PLATFORMS TO SUPPORT COOPERATION
In developing specialist cooperation and operating methods, Humap uses the Howspace cooperation platform, where the AI characteristics and excellent experience of participation facilitate in building a shared view and common goals. It is important to identify the impact of as many forces of change as possible and to examine matters from a multi-faceted perspective. In this way, we can better access the complex reality in which cooperation and problem-solving take place. The participation and cooperation of an extensive specialist group can be smooth and easy.