Ideas flowed at the "innovation jam"

Three hundred and fifty-one ideas relating to soft products and transport solutions. This was the result after the Group’s first joint virtual discussion forum. “It was excellent. We received a huge number of creative suggestions,” says Hans Persson, innovation director at Volvo Technology and one of the people who took the initiative and organised this forum.
Hans Lind, Hans Persson and Priyanka Yadav, Volvo Technology

An “innovation jam” is designed to invite employees to come up with ideas for innovations. Ideas that can subsequently be developed within the company.

In the past, Volvo Technology has organised similar forums internally within the business unit. However, this was the first time the whole Group had been invited to take part. The forum lasted for a total of 48 hours and afterwards Hans Persson was really satisfied.

“We attracted a huge global presence. At the same time, we hade a good spread in terms of employees from the markets, strategy and technology and, as a result, the perspectives in the discussions varied,” he explains.

The 351 ideas and 1,450 comments have now been collated. Nine of them are going to be developed and financed. However, this does not mean that the rest will be forgotten, according to Hans Persson.

“We are grouping the ideas to find a recipient who can manage them and develop them,” he says,
When Global Magazine visited the actual “forum”, it found 15 moderators sitting in one of the conference rooms at Volvo Technology. Employees wrote directly to the forum and the moderators answered, commented and led the discussion.

In addition to the moderators in Gothenburg, a number of moderators were also linked up in the USA in order to cover different time zones. At the time of Global Magazine’s visit, the forum had been in progress for just over a day and, according to Jonas Thorngren from Volvo Technology, it was now really moving along.

“To begin with, things were a little slow. I think many people were worried about jumping straight in and simply sharing their ideas. However, they can now see that there are no questions of prestige here. Nothing is questioned or regarded as wrong,” he said.

Next to Jonas Thorngren sat Rebello Hysen, from AB Volvo’s strategy department. This was the first time he had taken part in an idea forum and his screen was constantly filling up with new suggestions.

“It’s good that they come from employees with different kinds of experience. I have, for example, received quite a large number from India about ways of improving transport and the infrastructure,” he explained.

Staffan Lundgren, Volvo Technology, and Marc Lejeune, Volvo Powertrain, were responsible for questions about fuel efficiency. They welcomed new perspectives other than purely technical ones.

“We are not simply talking about pure engine development. We are also looking at the different solutions the market wants. This will help us to expand in a really positive way,” said Staffan Lundgren.

“We get closer to the customer and also obtain a global view of the issue directly at this forum,” added Marc Lejeune.

The forum was called “Volvo Group idea generation jam” and was organised by Volvo Group Business Innovation, which had been commissioned by AB Volvo, GIB Technology, GIB Soft Products and Volvo Technology Transfer. The entire forum was co-ordinated by Volvo Technology. The theme was soft products and transport solutions and the forum was divided into five different topics: fuel efficiency, new business, future transport solutions, emerging markets (large future markets such as India) and uptime (making the maximum use of the vehicle without unnecessary stoppages). A total of more than 26,000 log-ins were registered at the site.

Image: Hans Persson, centre, was really pleased with all the creativity and ideas that resulted from the discussion forum. He can be seen here looking at the suggestions Hans Lind and Priyanka Yadav from Volvo Technology have received.