Learning to love Innovation Day at UnitedHealth Group

Can holding an Innovation Day really have an impact on a company’s culture — or is it the corporate equivalent of throwing a raucous pep rally, then sending everyone back to the classroom?

For a big company take, we spoke to Ryan Armbruster, VP of Innovation Competency at UnitedHealth Group in Minnesota. The health insurer and provider of IT services chalked up $110 billion in 2012 revenue, $5.5 billion in profits, and has about 133,000 employees. Armbruster, who joined UnitedHealth in 2010, confesses that he was initially a skeptic about whether an Innovation Day conference would move the needle.

We’d love to hear about your experiences; post a comment below. What differentiates a successful Innovation Day from a flop?

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Ryan_ArmbrusterI started working in innovation a decade ago at the Mayo Clinic. At that time, very few people were spending 100 percent of their time thinking about innovation. At Mayo, we started the SPARC lab, a skunkworks focused on the outpatient experience, and later created Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation.

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