Chris Fitzgerald has always loved solving problems. Since joining Petro-Canada over fifteen years ago, he has worked across Suncor with one common theme: tackling complex problems and finding solutions that work for employees, leaders and the company.
Chris, who is currently a development manager focused on optimization for Business and Operations Services at Suncor, and his team were recently recognized for an innovative way to solve some of the company’s most complex problems. The ‘idea blast’ is an entrepreneurial concept designed to generate many ideas in a short time, before refining them with the help of a team of judges.
“The idea came about as a result of a perfect storm of needs,” says Chris. “It had to address three things: better engagement with end users, introducing new ideas and increasing the pace of development.”
For the initial explosion of ideas, Suncor’s supply chain team was selected. The supply chain team was up to the task, embracing new ways of working, recruiting dedicated team members to join the team and even presenting the concepts together to the management team. For Chris, the key to a successful idea explosion is an effective partnership with the end user of the solution.
“It’s fundamental,” Chris adds. “Suncor is a complex organization. Without partnership, new ideas or solutions may not resonate with the team that will use them in their daily work. If the people who design the solution are the ones who ultimately use it, you will have a much more successful solution.”
The idea explosion started with hundreds of ideas from Suncor supply chain employees, as well as external partners and suppliers. Connecting with people outside our company was key to generating new and unique ideas. After brainstorming initial ideas, the team refined a list of more than 100 ideas over the course of three months, culminating in a pitch with the innovation board for feedback and approval.
Currently, Suncor’s innovation team is moving forward with two digital concepts emerging from the idea explosion, with the potential to improve the employee experience in the field and support the Northern Lights Project, a digitalization project that aims to improve operations across all Suncor locations improve. The two ideas were created by employees and there is potential for application of the ideas within Suncor.
Idea Blast was a finalist for a Suncor Excellence Award in the People’s Choice category. The company has been presenting Suncor Excellence Awards for the past 20 years. The awards are used to recognize and celebrate employees and contractors who are leading the way in strengthening our company’s culture and living Suncor’s goals and values.