Humana exec on the ups and downs of innovation programs

natebellingerAt Humana, the Louisville, Kentucky-based health insurance giant, the question of how to infuse innovation throughout a 55,000-person organization isn’t a new one. The company has had various innovation initiatives in place for almost a decade and a half. But Humana’s innovation group has ebbed and flowed in size and budget, and reported to different executives, and in 2013 the company shut down a high-profile Innovation Center that had been built on one floor of corporate headquarters.

We asked Nate Bellinger, Humana’s Director of Consumer Innovation, to share some of the key lessons from Humana’s experience, and describe how his 10-person Innovation Team focuses its efforts today. One major issue he emphasizes: the work of an innovation group needs to be recognized and valued within the company — it can’t just be something that outside entities appreciate.

Here are the highlights from our recent wide-ranging conversation with Bellinger.

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