Innovation Engineering Capability sessions with Volvo CE

Innovation Engineering Capability sessions with Volvo CE

For over a decade the research collaboration has been going on with Volvo CE/AB Volvo with development of an innovation model, training, deployment and measuring, in order to increase the innovation capability of the organization and ultimately arrive at new solutions to the market in line with the Volvo vision.

The Plan!

Innovation Model framework

The “Volvo CE Innovation Model”, was a framework approved in 2010 with the purpose to strengthen the company’s innovative capability.

The innovation model was defined after performed benchmarks, literature studies and research collaboration. Implementation started with the global R&D function as a first step; with the intention to include the entire company in a later stage. The framework was defined in a way that it addressed the entire development process from ideation to innovations available on the market generating revenue.

The nine essential factors included in the Innovation Model framework were (Elfsberg, J. 2018. “Insert innovation: Strengthening the innovative capability of a large, mature firm“, Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertation Series, ISSN 1650-2140 ; 2, p48.):

  1. Innovative culture
  2. Sharing ideas
  3. Future goal
  4. Clear innovation process
  5. User oriented
  6. Clear leadership
  7. Committed management
  8. Inspiring working environment
  9. Time for ideas

Included in this 9 factor model was also idea support through the development of the Interact web support platform.

Interact logic (Elfsberg, p.51)

Innovation Coaches – iCoaches

The previously described framework is essential to enable a company to be innovative, but the drivers of innovative capability are the iCoaches. The iCoaches are the backbone of the Innovation Model framework and a global network of innovation enthusiastic change agents. The innovation ambassadors are called “iCoaches” and work part-time to drive innovation on every site. The first generation of iCoaches (2010) were selected based on their passion for innovation and their willingness to drive and support the initiative, some iCoaches applied because of interest and some were appointed by their line manager. In a global organization with many different sites the number of iCoaches clearly set the status on the different sites and in the global organization. In 2017 there are approximately 50 iCoaches active in the global organization; in most cases more than one per site.

All iCoaches are trained in several methods and tools corresponding with the nine factors in the innovation model, and the trainings are carefully selected by the core team. Innovation teams were iCoaches and experts, and workers needed, joined forces to develop solutions are referred to as iTeams. Innovation enablers for individuals and teams can be found in (Johnsson, M. 2016. “Innovation Enablers and Their Importance for Innovation Teams“, Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 7 and Benaim, A. T. Larsson, A. Larsson, J. Elfsberg, 2014. “Becoming An Innovative Company: Assessing An Organization’s Innovation Capability From The Perspective Of A Team“, and Benaim, A. T. Larsson, A. Larsson, J. Elfsberg, 2014. “Building a pathway for innovation: Lessons learned from developing an online platform“.

As a part of this continuous innovation model work there has been a stream of activities like innovation conferences with the start of the Volvo CE Xploration Forum 2016 being the dominant event and also releasing the Volvo Concept Lab in conjunction.

Global innovation collaboration via student projects have been a part in the work to with capstone project being the famous Stanford ME310 Global Design Innovation yearly project where BTH and Volvo have collaborated for 7 straight years now.

Most recently in conjunction to the display of the Electric Site at EXCON 2019 in india there was also a Innovation Conference training event where Professor Tobias Larsson, topped up the knowledge among managers and innovation workers with keynotes on ambidexterity in innovation organisations with the keynote “Innovation Engineering for Managers; On Demand Disruption“, and also with the keynote “Innovation Engineering; One man task or shared opportunity?” at the Volvo CE India site.

Keynote on innovation engineering by Tobias Larsson.

With so many people gathered with a focus on innovation engineering we also run workshops to further tweak the innovation model and innovative culture inside Volvo CE. Amanda Hagman of Volvo CE ran this workshop with excellence (Now Wow How format! from the MOVE workshop handbook) and Emerging Technologies Director Christian Grante provided a backdrop talk on where VCE wants to go in the future.

Amanda starting up workshop.
Christian Grante setting the context for VCE Innovation efforts.

Before embarking to India there had also been sessions at innovation conferences at the sites in Eskilstuna and Braås with talks and workshops.

Christian Grante in Eskilstuna Innovation Conference
Tobias Larsson at Braås Innovation Conference

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