Recently, a team of leaders from Allstate Infrastructure Services went to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to serve as judges for the Allstate Insurance Business Challenge. The event allowed teams from Northwestern’s graduate schools to submit proposals that blended business strategy, technology and domain expertise with the goal of helping develop innovative new ideas for the Allstate Technology & Strategic Ventures business unit.
I walked away re-energized and with the reminder of how some minds, with unrestricted freedom to be innovative, can function at very fast speeds. The student teams from Northwestern, in the space of a few weeks, developed a variety of fresh ideas leveraging unique technologies that could help build products and services for our customers.
Similarly, during a recent visit at Arizona State University, I chatted with students who are solving real-life issues in different ways on an almost daily basis. Examples of some of these student projects include using swipe cards so people can register for services at the health center; developing mobile applications allowing users to import information into databases by scanning barcodes or texting from their mobile phone. To put it simply, I was impressed by how these students use technology and think differently.
These examples exemplify flexible open-mindedness, a mentality that lets students pursue their goals without worrying about obstacles. They haven’t been weighed down by bureaucracy or compliance, by regulatory issues or budget constraints. They think as though getting a new product released in all 50 states by next week is an achievable task, and that’s a mentality that can bring quite a few benefits to any organization. There are plenty of people in every business who will find and address the obstacles; let them do their job, while we pursue our visions.
I’ve been talking a lot recently about the importance of speed to market, of being faster than we were in the past, and I’ve been encouraging everyone I come across at Allstate to get ready to get faster. If you’re having trouble getting your mind in the right place for this level of speed, then I’d recommend getting on a college campus and talking to the innovators of tomorrow they are the ones who will help get you there.
This blog entry has been republished with permission.
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