Training Top 125 Best Practice: Nationwide’s Innovate Capability Development
Through input from outside experts, senior leaders, and its Board, Nationwide identified a set of three capabilities that are the keys to success for the insurance company’s Workforce of the Future: Lead, Innovate, and Adapt. Learners start the Future Capability program with a self-assessment called “My Future, Our Success” to identify their strengths and development areas related to Nationwide’s Future Capabilities.
At Nationwide, innovation is everyone’s job, so in 2018-2019, the company focused on training more than 28,000 associates and leaders in the Innovate capability.
Nationwide’s best practices around innovation include:
1. Generate general associate curiosity about innovation.
2. Provide 24/7 access to knowledge and tools.
3. Provide a guided path to dive deep into practical innovation methods with measurable business results.
The Innovate learning experience begins with a Journey Map, including video-based learning demonstrating Innovate Key Actions and Design Thinking, Future Capability playlists, and curated resources. Leaders select an Innovation Sprint for their team that is based on the Innovate Key Actions and the Design Thinking process.
For innovation practitioners in Nationwide’s business units, there is the Design Thinking Bootcamp, Beyond Product Workshop (innovate on product AND service), Innovation Type Teambuilding, etc., to offer a deeper skill level and application to their roles.
The Innovate experience:
- Takes a learner/customer-centered approach: To learn what Nationwide customers needed, the company conducted empathy interviews; it also asked associates what kind of innovation training associates they sought. Nationwide then built best practices around a broad communication approach
- Tackles culture first: Many companies start with idea generation, but Nationwide recognized it first needed a culture that is receptive to innovation. It is training on Innovate Key Actions such as fostering risk taking, championing high-impact ideas, and making data-minded decisions in conjunction with a strong innovation process.
- Is embedded learning: The Design Sprints engage associates in their real-work environment with innovation, making the learning relevant.
For short-term reinforcement, the company hosts “Innovation Challenges,” practical challenges that allow associates to try out Design Thinking in their own lives, and has an Innovation Showcase that highlights success stories. Longer-term, the company uses Yammer to share success stories/failures; has an Innovation Hub for sharing external innovation stories; hosts leader-facilitated immersions in small group half-day sessions where learning is reinforced, best practices shared, and new techniques provided; and offers a bi-monthly newsletter highlighting business unit initiatives/associate innovations.
Nationwide made signification progress in 2018-2019 on the Innovation questions on its Gallup Survey, in particular on “Innovation is a part of my job,” moving from 3.82 to 4.08. On the Nationwide Innovation and Customer Service Innovation Index, the score changed positively by .31 from 2018 to 2019 for the question: “I feel safe to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them.”
For 2018, 13.13 percent of new sales came from newly launched innovation in Nationwide Financial. For 2019, Nationwide Financial exceeded its 15 percent goal and was on track to hit 18.12 percent.