(r)evolution at Volvo group
Doing their homework in 2013, it was clear to the executives of Volvo group that one of the main conditions for a positive turnover was having a dramatic decrease in numbers. Analysing at a survey on employee attitudes and engagement, it was evident that the dramatically dropping figures had to be turned around. One of the first steps was to hire Peter Grönberg as Senior Vice President of Culture and Leadership – both to analyse the past, present and future and to find viable solutions to the problem.
In short Grönberg found that the old fashion kind of leadership, in a hierarchy, just wouldn’t be enough to make sure that research, development or production would be of a good enough quality. It was actually the old ways of managing that caused the lack of engagement of employees.
But, Grönberg concluded, modernising management in the Volvo group would not only address the problem with employee attitudes, it could also make certain that Volvo met other new challenges, such as the major global problems with Global warming, Congestions, Traffic safety, Energy scarcity and Air quality. It was according to Grönbergs analysis a great time for Volvo group to evolve and adapt to the new technology- and relationship-driven business world.
For some time now, analysts have been pointing out how important it is to work with lean production as well as with relationship-creating organisations. Volvo is now transforming the whole organisation to do both. The idea is that the Volvo group management will be founded on three strategic cornerstones: Trust, Will to grow and Clear direction. These cornerstones apply to all, not the least individuals on all levels. In the same time four major leadership strategies are adopted: Pull instead of Push, individually Tailored organisations, Leadership responsibility for tools and processes and an Integrated strategy (not just for management meetings).
Change that works
Vital to this change process is to work from the bottom up, instead of the opposite. Making every single employee part of the work and goals of the company means change in four simple steps: Awareness, Understanding, Participation and Change.
Volvo has also found that changing its management allows the company, much more quickly, to adapt to the real changes and challenges of today such as IoT (Internet of Things), Autonomous technology and Electrification. Already the company has managed to develop and produce more innovations than it used too, just some years ago.
By the way, the new attitude surveys has shown that Volvo group so far is succeeding, even if the project is far from over, if it ever ends.
– Change in a modern business fashion is a never-ending story, Peter Grönberg says.