We used SmoothTeam in our product development team, which develops a product called Tiima. Our team members live in different parts of Finland, so we have done a lot of remote work already before the epidemic. The SmoothTeam simulation also worked great remotely.

The simulation progressed smoothly

The simulation sparked a good discussion also in a group that is sometimes hard to get talking. I especially liked the open field where participants can write comments. This allows the facilitator to pick up topics for discussion from the more quiet team members as well.

We opted for a simulation with an external facilitator and this was a good solution for us: I as the foreperson was able to remain in a suitably small role as an outsider was helping to facilitate the discussion.

As a tool, SmoothTeam is clear and can be used by even the least experienced. It directs in a well-thought manner to the appropriate discussions and also to move forward. The simulation also limited the discussion appropriately and directed it to the necessary topics.

The simulation revealed hidden things 

We were able to effortlessly open up particularly difficult issues for further discussion. These are necessary discussions for the team, and they are easily left to the background. They can be talked about privately, but there is usually a big threshold for bringing them into a joint discussion.

As a foreperson, it is essential to me that all the topics of discussion were initiated by someone other than myself. Addressing these topics is now in the common interest of our team and we will continue to address them after the simulation.

How do we take decision-making power and how do we throw ourselves into tasks?

For the joint follow-up discussions, we have chosen to first address the following issues raised in the simulation:
We have been following the Scrum model for a long time, meaning that the roles and practices should be clear. However, I noticed again that when you don’t talk enough, you can easily expect too many solutions from the team leader or the product owner in matters that actually belong to the team. We have excellent experts, but sometimes there have been challenges in situations that require quickly throwing ourselves into tasks and an exchange of opinions. We want to familiarize ourselves with the matter and provide good outputs, which creates a threshold for rapid brainstorming.

A good team knows how to work both together and independently

In good teamwork, it is important to find a balance between what is done alone and what is done with the team. In order for a team to function effectively, it needs to identify the strengths of its members and form appropriate groups within the team that can take things forward.

Another hallmark of a good team is a safe group. To achieve this, it is necessary to know the others and also sometimes have fun together. Both of these evolved in the simulation.

Team members recommend SmoothTeam also to others

Already during the simulation, I noticed that the team clearly liked the simulation. After the simulation, I asked the team about the experience. The team members found the simulation useful and would recommend it to others.

I recommend SmoothTeam to all teams

I also recommend SmoothTeam to any team, regardless of industry. I especially recommend it to a new or changed teams or an older team that hasn’t yet discussed each other’s strengths. The team does not have to be permanent, an ad hoc team also benefits from the simulation.

Juho Uutela
Product Owner and Foreperson
Visma Enterprise Oy