Recently, we were thrilled to host Chief Innovation Officer at Nationwide, Scott Sanchez, as our featured guest at Off The Record, a monthly innovation event held at our office in Midtown Atlanta. Sanchez, a faculty member at Stanford’s d.school, discussed the topic of “Expanding Innovation Beyond a Lab.” The conversation was facilitated by 352’s SVP of Innovation, Robert Berris.
Attendees got to hear first-hand from Sanchez about his career journey to innovation, and his perspective and methodology on leveraging teams to develop capabilities. Attendees also learned about how he is building, growing, and scaling the innovation practice at Nationwide.
The conversation started with an acknowledgement: Innovation does not have a clear path.
So how do we, as innovators, go about the task of doing innovation within an enterprise environment?
Two major themes quickly emerged:
- Developing teams for innovation.
- Scaling an innovation practice inside an enterprise.
On the topic of developing teams for innovation, Sanchez had a lot of interesting insights. When asked about what he looks for when hiring for innovation, he responded, “What I find so interesting about innovators is this concept of breadth and depth in people. The best innovators have good breadth, but also have unexpected depth.” The trick, according to Sanchez, is to respect differences. “You could have individual team members who have a depth in journalism, in marketing, in product, etc., and when you bring them all together, it makes a great team.”
The topic of how to scale an innovation practice sparked a lot of conversation and questions, and is what Sanchez admitted is his biggest challenge at Nationwide. Sanchez uses a balance of resources where he combines innovators inside and outside of NW to drive divergent thinking. He says,
I don’t want to outsource innovation, but I also don’t want to fully own it within Nationwide; I want a balance.
Sanchez emphasized that he likes to employ hybrid teams, like the relationship Nationwide has with 352. Three Five Two and Nationwide have engaged in a “co-lab” model to help Nationwide scale their innovation efforts. More than a traditional staff augmentation effort or outsourced consulting, this is a full-time, radical collaboration effort where both companies are bringing their best resources together to work full-time, side by side, to deliver solutions for Nationwide.
If you missed this event, we hope this recap was helpful! We hope to see you at our next Off The Record event.
About Off The Record
In 2016, what started as an experiment to bring together 30 corporate innovators turned into the largest corporate innovation community in the southeast. Our community of 800+ innovators convenes at Off The Record monthly for unique content, best practices, networking and swapping war stories. To learn more, visit www.threefivetwo.com/events.