“Is there anything similar on the market right now? No?! Then let’s make sure we keep this idea between us!” Kristina Gustafsson, Feed Manager Agriculture sector, and one of this year’s eight Dragons, voices the thoughts of several present in the Orangerie at Triton, Lantmännen’s new office in Malmö: the idea just pitched is so good that no one can understand why the solution does not already exist in the market.
A total of four teams have been given the opportunity to pitch their ideas this year. Three of these have subsequently been given the green light and will now be processed by the project teams and selected steering groups. And the fourth idea will be integrated into existing and ongoing work within Lantmännen. A full house, in other words!
“This journey through the Greenhouse Accelerator has been a cocktail of emotions, from euphoria to frustration!” says Nicole Böhm (Process Leader Business Intelligence), one of this year's 21 participants. She and her team have just pitched to the Dragons, plus all the other participants and guests gathered in the room. Just like the other participants, she bursts into a big smile as soon as the pitch finishes and she and her team have taken their seats.
“I felt very nervous before the actual pitch, but it was actually fun both during and after,” exclaims Nadja Kvick Nastaj, Crop Cultivation Advisor and member of a different project team.
Excitement in the air - the first team of four getting ready to pitch!
Martin Holmberg and Erik Pettersson demonstrating the new service offering
Dragons Camilla Persson, Fredrik Djupmarker and Peter Annas
The shaping of the four projects took place in various stages across the year leading up to today’s event. Last spring over 100 ideas were generated through the Greenhouse’s Innovation days. The proposals considered to have the greatest potential were then selected and Lantmännen's employees were invited to further develop them in the Accelerator to take place during the autumn. Before the summer places for the Accelerator were allocated, and teams formed.
But for at least three of these teams the beginning was tough. They struggled to understand each other and agree on a path through the task at hand.
“We come from different parts of Lantmännen so there was no lack of drive in the group. But we did question whether we would be able to get the most out of the collaboration,” says Veronica Ehrström Eklöf (Project Manager Innovation).
“Before we sketched out our idea I wondered if we would ever find success. It felt like we were all speaking completely different languages!” says Nadja Kvick Nastaj.
Lennart Olsson (Sales Crop Production) thought it was especially helpful to use techniques such as sketching to visualize and represent both the idea itself and the process. “The creative exercise of drawing apples was great proof that a group of people can produce a diverse set of solutions and viewpoints to the same questions,” says he.
“The visualization exercise was far removed from my everyday life and it felt, perhaps, a bit light. But it also gave me the courage to dare. It is not always easy to find agreement within a group containing individuals who have such cutting-edge knowledge of their own fields,” suggests Johan Wågstam (Technology and digital developer).
Eva Jenssen and Sofie Winding on stage
Dragons Agneta Rudin and Carin Ritter and project members Anna Lindgren and Lennart Olsson
Dragons Kristina Gustafsson, Elisabeth Ringdahl and Agneta Rudin
But the groups’ commitment was strong all the way through to the Dragons’ Den experience. The proposals pitched to the Dragons were elaborate and all presentations well prepared. One group supplemented their pitch with acting while another added a storyboard. The Dragons are impressed by both form and content.
Johannes Åkerblom’s day job is Crop Production Manager, Agriculture sector:
“It is crucial that the Greenhouse has brought itself closer to the business. It has resulted in better projects and a greater chance of real business benefit. The ideas in this year's edition fit directly into Lantmännen's strategy. It is also good that all of the groups have salespeople within them.”
Fredrik Djupmarker, Dragon and CEO of Dataväxt, is appreciative of both this year's proposal and the way of working in the Greenhouse. He is inspired by the way the process used design thinking and is keen to embrace and explore this approach. “It is important not to rush, but to consider what the customer's actual needs are for the proposed service. Just because we have a technical solution that can do a certain thing does not mean that customers see actual value from that function.”
And according to fellow Dragon, Kristina Gustafsson, it is important that the idea generation work is anchored within the employees’ expertise: “It is often the employees who are close to reality who have the best knowledge of what needs exist. Without anchoring this process within our employees, business development can easily flounder and ideas remain unimplemented. That has been our experience.”
Dragon Agneta Rudin, Sales and Marketing Manager at Lantmännen Machines, also mentions other reasons why the Greenhouse's setup works well. “Skilled employees who want to develop are given space for that in the Greenhouse. And they also get the impact of cooperation across functions. This can spark new ideas and enable building on each other's knowledge. The people involved in these projects are really good at what they do, and it is great that Lantmännen can take part.”
Peter Williamsson and Sune Forsström, waiting for the Dragons’ feedback and decisions.
Dragons Kristina Gustafsson, and Fredrik Djupmarker and Peter Annas sharing the Dragons’ feedback and decisions for the project teams
Greenhouse 2022 graduation with green plants and diplomas
One hope for the Greenhouse is that it will lead to continued collaborations within the new network.
“That is how it should happen,” says Stina Borgström (Business Solutions Specialist). “Or actually is right now! I have already involved Peter Williamsson (Sales Crop Production) as a reference person in another project.”
Any tips for next year's teams?
“Try to avoid packaging and bringing together your solution on the first day! Start by exploring common points of contact instead,” suggests Johan Wågstam.
Tobias Hallström (Sales Crop Production) adds: “Go in with an open mind and try ways of working that you are not used to. And be prepared for it to take a lot of time.”
“You have to make sure you enjoy being part of it!” says Stina Borgström. “I will tell all my colleagues to join if they can. It has given me so much and has been even more educational than I expected.”
"What has been most surprising about the Greenhouse?" Eva Jenssen (Sales, Nötfor) repeats the question and briefly falls silent before answering: “That it has been much more enjoyable than I had thought! I expected it to be professionally organized - and it has been. And that I would learn about business development - and I have. But the whole experience has also been super fun!”
Greenhouse 2022 project teams, dragons and organizers.
Tobias Hallström , Martin Holmberg, Andreas Öhrman, Johan Wågstam, Johan Mickelåker, Erik Pettersson and Andreas Persson.
Nicole Böhm, Eva Jenssen and Sofie Winding
Viktor Ahlberg, Sune Forsström, Stina Borgström, Peter Williamsson and Nadja Kvick Nastaj
Niklas Saläng, Mattias Andersson, Anna Lindgren, Jens Juul, Veronica Ehrström Eklöf and Lennart Olsson
Questions about this year’s Greenhouse activities?
Contact Nina Tuomikangas, email@example.com,
Program manager, Greenhouse 2022 R&D Group Functions