An innovation culture is no longer a nice to have; it’s a must have. Innovation is the future. It is a key differentiator in our ability to compete in quickly evolving markets, and it’s why we are focusing on embedding innovation into company culture.

Executive Summary

An on-site employee food pantry and an improved voice-prompting system for customer calls are two very different, real-life examples of innovations at a 100-year-old insurance carrier. Here, Marie Andel, who leads her company's efforts in corporate culture, talent management and leadership development, explains how CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, is encouraging and empowering employees to drive innovation. Training, change champion networks and executive buy-in are key factors, she writes.

As a 100-year-old insurance company, transforming existing norms, values and assumptions isn’t an easy task. But in order to remain competitive and survive, it’s essential that we inspire employees to continuously improve and better serve customers.

As part of our efforts to make innovation an enterprisewide top priority, our leadership team knew that we needed to be clear and intentional with our purpose. We defined an additional business strategy: “Foster a culture of insight and innovation.” We added innovation to the company’s core values and included it as a competency in our performance review process. And we developed innovation training for all employees to help explore how everyone can seek insights and apply new, innovative approaches to everyday work.

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