Over the weekend, we watched an awesome Q&A between Innovation Enterprise and Spigit customer Metlife’s John Geyer. As Metlife’s Senior VP of Innovation, Geyer spends quite a lot of his time thinking about intelligent design and collaboration, and just about everything he does is in an effort to drive innovation deeper into the DNA of one of the world’s leading life insurance companies.
Here’s what we learned about what it means to have a successful innovation program.
1. Culture Change and Market Growth
It’s a given that innovation efforts should yield returns. But according to Geyer, the positive changes they drive within a company are equally as important as the revenue and new markets they generate. “One of the things that was an important first step for us was to establish process and drive cultural change,” he says. “Over the last two years the company [has] become much more comfortable with experimentation and potential failure.”
2. Increased Process Efficiency
Outmoded processes are one of the most common motivation killers in business, and a surefire way to keep ideas from reaching decision-makers. So, it makes sense that early innovation efforts should be focused on stamping them out. If you’re not constantly refining the specifics of the way you work as a company, you aren’t learning.
3. Improved Customer Satisfaction
Again, returns are typically the primary goal of any innovation program, so a heavy focus on improving the customer experience is key. But in order to implement great ideas, you have to find them first. “We think of innovation in two big buckets,” says Geyer. “Discovery and incubation. Once you have an idea, that’s really an invention. Innovation is when you take that idea and turn it into some commercial good.”
4. Higher Employee Engagement
At Metlife, there are three types of innovation that people can engage in: social innovation, facilitated innovation, and co-innovation. Each is framed differently, uses specific tools and platforms, and is attached to divergent goals. This helps them gain access to diverse perspectives, allowing them to engage people from all areas of the company and ensure that they’re taking advantage of all of the ideas presented to them. Making it acceptable to experiment and fail has also been a crucial part of boosting overall employee engagement.
Geyer touches on several sub-metrics that matter, too — things like using the same success metrics on innovation that you use for your overall business, asking what core assumptions have to be true for an idea to be viable, or the importance of tracking outcomes “from inception to forever.” Remember, too, that not all companies are created equal. “[Structuring innovation] is very specific to the corporate architecture of a company,” he notes.
We totally recommend watching the whole video, which you can do by clicking here.