futurethink is launching another round of innovator interviews to share insights and best practices from leading innovation practitioners. All of these interviews are free to download once you’ve registered on futurethink‘s website.
Our first interview in this series is with Tony Tomazic, Director of Consumer Innovations at Humana. In his leadership role in the Humana Innovation Center, Mr. Tomazic focuses on developing and implementing programs to engage consumers in their health and promote well-being.
Below is an excerpt from his interview. The full version can be download here.
What do you think is the single biggest challenge to making innovation happen?
I don’t believe that innovation can easily emerge without an environment to support it. Look at startup companies: they make innovation part of their identity. They must embrace that disruptive and creative potential of innovation in order to be able to change the status quo. As a company gets bigger, it’s harder to maintain that kind of environment.
Everybody wants to improve their bottom line, but it’s not lip service that’s going to get you there. You actually have to be willing embrace innovative ideas when they emerge and that’s not always going to be comfortable.
What would you say is the number one indicator of a healthy innovation program?
In a healthy innovation program, you see the best ideas move forward at the expense of those ideas that objectively don’t stack up. When pet projects survive and bad ideas continue to get funding, there’s a problem.
Healthy innovation requires people to see that their ideas are not their children, even though it may feel like it sometimes. You must be willing to shelve hard work and change direction if success lies elsewhere.
If the Humana CEO were to come to you tomorrow requesting a progress report on innovation, what three metrics would you report on and why?
I’d give him an update on:
1) The number of concepts that are currently in our prototyping pipeline;
2) The value of our innovation products this year; and
3) A picture of our current budget snapshot.
I think that that would be enough for him to understand our progress and whether or not things were on track.
I do think that those key innovation metrics change over time. I don’t believe that you can cling to the same metrics any more than you can limit yourself to the same innovation practices over time.
For the rest of this interview, download the full version for free here.