Driving Innovation by Precedent (and Practice)

Chubb, like other companies in the insurance industry, recognized the need for innovation. But how to go about it? How to go beyond imposing solutions from the top down to create a culture of change within the organization? And how could Chubb help spread new approaches to the agents, brokers and partners who sell its products—and whose efforts would be critical to the success of the company’s responses to change?

Vanderbilt’s Custom Solution for Chubb

Chubb engaged Vanderbilt to deliver a customized version of the Executive Education’s new Music City Innovation program for a group of the company’s employees and partners. The (2-day) program uses, as its starting point, the original story of the Grand Ole Opry, which was created not to sell country music but rather to sell insurance—a revolutionary idea that piggybacked on a disruptive new technology, radio.

The Music City Innovation program is one of Vanderbilt’s newest customizable offerings for organizations. It not only equips individuals to become better strategic innovators within organizations, but it also relies on new approaches to learning. Along with interactive classroom sessions on strategic innovation led by Vanderbilt professor David Owens — one of the nation’s recognized experts on the subject — the program includes content on how innovation changed the history of both country music and Nashville. Noted music journalist and producer Craig Havighurst leads the sessions on Music City, some of which are held in iconic locations, such as the Ryman Auditorium, where that history was made.

In piloting the new program with Chubb, the Vanderbilt team worked with a class that consisted of Chubb employees as well as agents and brokers from the company’s Southeast region. The first day focused on helping participants experience examples of innovative thinking (from the intersection in Nashville of their own industry with country music and radio); understand their constraints and create a culture of change. Participants also completed individual assessments to help them identify and understand their own personal barriers to innovation. In the evening, participants worked collaboratively with local songwriters to create and perform songs incorporating the concepts they had discussed that day.

During the program’s second day, amid sessions on strategy and data analytics, multidisciplinary teams identified priority areas, within both Chubb and its affiliated agencies, for applying tools they gained during the program.

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