“Simplicity isn’t a process, it’s a mindset”

Having held various positions in the Volvo Group, Gustavo Guerra is two months into his new role as Design Director for Volvo Construction Equipment at Group Trucks Technology. He believes simplicity is key to the modern-day Volvo Group, at a time when success is defined by agility, efficiency and speed.
“Simplicity isn’t a process, it’s a mindset”

“Simplicity means focusing on the facts and answering the following questions: ‘What do we need to deliver, what’s the intent, and what’s the simplest, quickest way to do it within the context of the project?” he says.

Having been with the Volvo Group for ten years, during which time he has worked in design departments in Sweden, France, China and North America, Gustavo Guerra is thrilled to be heading up the team of 25 people responsible for developing the identity and design of the Volvo Construction Equipment range.

Over the years, Gustavo explains that he has seen the world of automotive design shift from a physical to a digital environment.

“I believe simplicity is a reflection of our time,” he says, adding that, whereas in the past, design tools were very complex and required a lot of processes to double check that everything was done correctly, the modern world is quicker, simpler and more agile.

“We used to make physical prototypes and, when mistakes occurred, they could be incredibly costly,” he explains. “These days, working in the digital CAD environment, it’s cheaper and less time consuming to test, prototype and correct your design rather than proving that things are 100-percent correct from the outset.”

My motto is try, try quickly, and, if you fail, fail quickly.

Whereas design work at the Volvo Group used to be heavily governed by processes, Gustavo believes there are efficiency gains to be made from moving toward a less process-driven, more simplified, agile way of working.

“For me it comes down to placing focus on the right things where you get the most added value,” he says. “I prefer to sit down and try something out instead of wasting time discussing it in endless meetings.”

“My experience is that if I get everyone together in one place at one time, and have one single, dedicated brainstorming session, we all leave with a clear plan for what to do next,” he continues.

Gustavo goes on to explain that, whereas designers tend to want to make everything perfect, he always tries to stay focused on the big picture – and not on the tiny details that take up time and resources without adding any real value.

“My motto is ‘try, try quickly, and, if you fail, fail quickly’. If you try something and see it doesn’t work, it’s easy to move on,” he says, and admits that it is up to him as a leader to foresee the barriers his teams are likely to encounter and try to minimize their impact.

“I help the designers prioritize and dedicate their time to the key areas that add value to the project and the customer,” he says. “Simplicity isn’t a process, it’s a mindset, and it’s all about delivering the best you can within the context of the project.”

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