Learning in the shadows

Some knowledge can only be obtained from within. That is why Volvo Group practices “shadowing”, a learning method where the apprentice is a silent observer.
Learning in the shadows

For the past week, Emerson Sanders, Communication Manager, Curitiba truck manufacturing plant, has been a quiet presence at the head office in Gothenburg following Jan Ohlsson, Executive Vice President of Volvo Group Trucks Operations, the organization responsible for logistics and manufacturing of trucks.

This is the second time that the shadowing project is up and running. While Emerson Sanders and other local communication managers have followed the members of the Executive Management Team in Gothenburg, nine communicators from the central communication team have been sent out to different sites all over the world. The purpose is to give the communications team a deeper understanding of daily operations.

“You can learn a lot more by shadowing the right person than you can from 10 to 20 hours of official training. By being at the same meetings, you can see how the decisions are made and how the business is run,” says Emerson Sanders.

“My mission as a communicator is to transform information into knowledge. By sitting in on these meetings together with Jan Ohlsson and getting to know his day-to-day work situation, I get valuable knowledge that I can share with my team,” he adds.

Internal know-how

According to Stefan Lorentzson, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, shadowing has proved a valuable tool in retaining internal know-how while bridging the gap between global and local.

“ A major building block of our communications has always been our glocal approach, which combines being global and local, as well as strategic and operative. Shadowing offers this and provides our local communicators the chance to get better acquainted with our strategic, global management issues and the global communications team to better understand the local and operational environment,” he says.

“It strengthens our business acumen, creates a better understanding of our different needs and builds a foundation to act in one joint direction.”

Fly on the wall

During the shadowing project, Emerson Sanders was a fly on the wall at several meetings, ranging from everything between projects to investments.

“We haven’t arranged anything special for this week, for me it was just a regular working week. I think it’s important that you do what is written in your calendar and don’t orchestrate anything,” says Jan Ohlsson.

“We are experiencing constant change and we have to be under constant change, because this machine never stops. We are living in an age of disruption that we as an industry have never seen before. How will a truck look and work tomorrow? What is a powertrain today versus a powertrain tomorrow? To be competitive in the future, it is crucial that we learn from each other.”

Stefan Lorentzson

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