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Using Collaboration Tools to Harness the Power of Collective Innovation
There is a tremendous capacity for innovation and creativity within any organization. However, most organizations lack the strategy and the tools necessary to effectively sort through the innovative ideas generated by the general worker population. USAA, a member-owned financial services firm, recognizes that any time the organization can reduce costs, the benefits accrue not just to the firm, but to its customer base as well. As a result, the company is deploying advanced collaboration tools to improve the customer experience, lower costs and deliver innovative services to its members.
U S A A D r i v e s I n n o v a t i o n Th r o u g h C o l l a b o r a t i o n
USAA, a member-owned financial services firm open to all U.S. service members and their
families, operates on the knowledge that any time the organization can reduce costs, the
benefits accrue not just to the firm, but to the members who make up its customer base. As a
result, the company is especially driven to do whatever it can to improve the customer experience,
lower costs and deliver innovative services and products that improve the lives of its
Toward that end, USAA has tasked three executive directors to oversee the development and
production of innovative ideas throughout the organization. Together, they drive three phases
of what they fully embrace as a revolutionary and disruptive process: Ideation, Incubation,
and Revolutionary Development (aka RevDev). In 2013, Matthew Reedy, Executive Director
of Innovation, oversaw "ideation"—the generation, brainstorming, research and review that
goes into developing ideas and deciding whether they are worth pursuing.
USAA focuses its innovation on new ideas that will help the organization better serve both
customers and employees. About to percent of innovations have a technology/IT
component. The rest fall more into the area of business-model change, involving process
improvement, partnerships and other capabilities. But in all cases, the company's goal is to
encourage its employees to contribute new, innovative ideas that it can use to
improve the ways in which it does business, as well as to create better products and services.
Reed says that some of the best new thinking often comes from non-management employees,
since they're the ones who are on the front lines: unlike company executives, it's these
employees who are actually working with the company's business processes; and they are
more likely to interact with customers and understand the real customer experience (rather
than the one the company hopes for).
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