By Drew Ianni
September 24, 2020


Nationwide Insurance: Driving Human-Centered Innovation

Heather Turney-Navaei heads up Transformational Innovation at Nationwide Insurance at the firm’s satellite office in in Atlanta. She spoke with CDX recently in a roundtable about how The Peachtree City is becoming an innovation hotbed.

Turney-Navaei explained why Nationwide chose this city for its innovation-focused office: “Atlanta has a unique ability to reach across different companies and sectors of the market and come together to get something done.” In discussing the innovation ecosystem across Metro Atlanta, which includes over 40 corporate innovation centers and labs and several world-class universities, she said “I like that I can get on the phone with my peers at Home Depot or at Southern Company and just say ‘Hey, I’m having this problem’ and we can brainstorm together in a way that’s a win-win for the companies and the ecosystem.”

Diversity and inclusion was a hot topic of conversation, as well as how exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences can help drive innovation forward. Turney-Navaei noted that it is all about “how we are designing specific experiences and products. Are we listening to and bringing in diverse views, and are we including all of the voices as active partners and not just participants?”

Innovation Best Practices & Success Metrics

The conversation turned to best practices for managing successful innovation initiatives and groups. Turney-Navaei noted that Nationwide is a “mutual,” so a company privately owned by its policyholders, with a commitment to innovation that has been set and reinforced by the CEO and the Board. “We have very clear and strong support from the top, which has given our teams autonomy and the responsibility to act and think like a start-up and solve needs for our customers,” she said. Now the company is approaching its centennial anniversary, and it is very focused on “expanding its vision of protection.” At a more tactical level, Turney-Navaei said she and her innovation cohorts leverage design thinking to create new product and solve customer needs. And the Atlanta innovation office has created multiple products that are already in the market.

What types of success metrics are employed for the company’s broader innovation efforts? Turney-Navaei was clear: “We are measured by two things. Can we meet the desirability vision for our consumers? And are we getting users into our products?…So it really is focused on customer acquisition and can we build something that can scale and have a meaningful impact on the consumer and our bottom line.”

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