Innovation Services, a specific department within Progressive, helps to weave this culture of innovation throughout our business areas. The various areas that make up Innovation Services weren’t created overnight. For example, our Business Innovation Garage, an internal think-tank for innovating products and services at Progressive, launched in 2013. The Action Factory, a series of one-day sessions to accelerate discussions of business problems, was created in late 2014.
By bundling services like these together with other innovation catalysts that existed within the company – like Edison, an interactive, community-based environment to crowdsource employee ideas and Code Jams, 24-hour collaborative coding marathons and groups that provide customer and industry research; User Experience and Research and Enablement – Innovation Services was born, taking our already rich culture of employee-driven innovation to the next level.
“The foundational components of Innovation Services are collaboration, creativity, and learning,” says Innovation Enablement Manager Beth Toth, who oversees the department. “Knowing that all employees are encouraged to use our Innovation Services resources to explore their ideas, regardless of their business area, and that some of these ideas turn into real, successful projects, is very appealing to current and prospective employees.”
While Innovation Services has many success stories, small and large, one of the biggest would have to be Snapshot Mobile, which was introduced to consumers in December 2016. It was one of the first “experiments” that our Business Innovation Garage worked on, and it all started with an idea submitted by an applications programmer and product development manager.
Within a couple months, our Garage “mechanics,” working with our Snapshot and Mobile teams, had a working prototype that we first tested with employees to quickly, safely, and efficiently learn its advantages and limitations before moving into product development mode.
“Each group within Innovation Services plays an instrumental role in fostering this environment where little ideas can become big projects,” adds Beth. “Progressive has always encouraged employees willing to disrupt the status quo, and we’re doing that every day by having an accessible environment for creativity, collaboration, and a never-ending passion for learning.”less
The goal of our college recruiting program is to encourage high-quality talent from universities across the country to consider careers with Progressive, specifically with our Personal Lines, Commercial Lines, Claims Control, Finance, and IT business areas. From the start, our interns are given work that is challenging, meaningful, and hands-on. Interns are assigned to various business areas and challenged to learn new skills, collaborate with others and ultimately create a positive impact on the project they’ve been assigned.
For example, in 2016, IT interns, raved about not only learning new skills and collaborating with others, but also about being involved in the production of an application that’s actually being used in the real world.
It’s one thing to talk with students about Progressive’s innovative and inclusive culture, it’s another thing to let them see it. In 2016 and 2017, Progressive sponsored a networking contest at the Association of Information Technology Professionals collegiate conference in Chicago and St. Louis. This allowed students the opportunity to become immersed in the kind of work our Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) group does without having to step foot on a Progressive campus.
Some students also are given the opportunity to come on site for a day of engaging panel discussions where they hear from current employees about what “a day in the life of Progressive” is really like.
Particularly interesting to students in mathematics programs is learning how a company like Progressive uses data to innovate and push into new frontiers. Data & Analytics Business Leader Pawan Divakarla speaks at campuses across the country on that very topic. “By highlighting initiatives like our Snapshot® program, we can show students with a passion for data and analytics that we actually make data—it’s our bread and butter, and our reverence for data starts at the very top of our organization. It’s great to see students’ eyes light up when I travel to campuses with top-notch math and stats programs and talk about this. Many of the faces I see will be our future data scientists.”
Whether it’s inspiring the next data scientist, IT systems engineer, or programmer, Progressive will continue to find new and innovative ways to show top technology and quantitative talent what it means to be Progressive.
Check out what’s happening on our campuses by following our #LifeAtProgressive hashtag.less
At the heart of this initiative are the themes of thinking differently, expressing diversity, offering new ideas, reporting bad news, raising concerns and voicing disagreement.
The initiative uses video, a traveling art exhibition and a series of speakers to convey the value of courage both within the workplace and beyond. The speaker series offers a variety of perspectives on the theme of courage.
"Courage at Our Core” seeks to remind people that giving expression to our Core Values and honoring our Code of Conduct sometimes require a measure of courage,” says Corporate Compliance and Ethics Officer Mike Uth.
In 2016, employees across the country heard a variety of perspectives from speakers who shared how they've embodied moral courage in their personal and professional lives. Cynthia Cooper, an internal auditor who revealed the massive fraud at WorldCom, spoke out against corporate dishonesty and the courage it takes to make a tough decision. Irshad Manji, founder and director of the Moral Courage Project at University of Southern California encouraged employees to foster an ethical workplace, challenge the status quo, and to always strive for integrity. Tim and Natalie Rose of Disability Positive Consulting advocated embracing disabilities as a catalyst for creativity and innovation. Additional speakers are being scheduled in 2017.
Progressive's Corporate Art Department contributed to the campaign with an art exhibition designed to encourage attendees to know what they believe, understand the alternative beliefs of others, and have the courage and the tools to speak up when situations warrant vocal awareness. The exhibition, "Courage at Our Core: Art and Action," which opened in Cleveland, will travel to other Progressive campuses nationwide through 2017 and will be accompanied by a series of seminars to get people talking about the art, the meaning of courage, and what it takes to welcome disagreement and maintain moral courage.
“We wanted to make sure the courageousness of the artists was represented. It was a deliberate effort to include artists that use themes of social or political activism in their work to speak up and make an impact in the world," says Kristin Rogers, manager of Art Education.
In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” The essence of the campaign encourages employees to be comfortable and willing to let their opinions be heard and speak up when the need arises.less
One way Progressive did this was through partnering with the Cleveland Indians and one of the top Northeast Ohio-based coding “boot camps,” Tech Elevator, to host the first-ever Tribe Hackathon at Progressive Field just before Memorial Day.
“In our challenge to the hackers, we asked them to think about one aspect of being a fan that could be better, such as researching player stats, buying tickets, concessions at the ballpark, you name it,” explains IT Manager Jane Gundlach.
To start-off the experience, a preliminary meet-up was held at Progressive’s headquarters in early May. Attendees were exposed to our innovative workplace culture to get their creative juices flowing.
Then, over 40 competitors traveled from all over Northeast Ohio to Progressive Field a couple weeks later. Baseball, technology and innovation collided as tech students and seasoned professionals worked side-by-side for hours to dream up and then develop a technology to enhance fans’ in-game experience.
The competitors hit it out of the ball park with their immersive and out-of-the box projects. The judges saw everything from a Twitter® app that alerts you when a critical moment is about to happen in the game, to a virtual reality experience putting you directly on the field. The winning idea was an augmented-reality app that pops up player stats, ball trajectories from prior at-bats, and useful stadium information on users’ smartphones as they use their camera to visually scan across the ballpark.
“We’re thrilled with what everyone came up with during the competition,” adds Jane. “It goes to show how partnering with local organizations and hosting new and unique activities like this can help demonstrate Progressive’s innovative culture and have a significant impact on ultimately attracting more of the best tech talent to our region.”less
We had 7,484 employees who were members of one or more ERGs as of year-end 2016. In 2016, 24% of Progressive people participated in ERGs.
In 2016, 7,559 employees had flexible work arrangements. Here are the type of arrangements and how they break down.
Through our STEM Progress® program, we develop and teach interactive lessons called Crash Courses to encourage students to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and math.
Here’s information on our efforts in 2016:
In 2016, Progressive IT sponsored a week-long summer High School Coding Camp with Tech Corps, facilitated at Cleveland State University, where students from around Cleveland learned how to create and program an app. We are sponsoring two more camps in 2017.
In early 2016, Progressive’s Compliance and Ethics department introduced a new site for employees called ‘Courage at Our Core’, which provides content that provokes thought and encourages employees to keep an ethical culture at their core.
Progressive employees in 17 states across the country participate annually in a school supply drive to benefit the Kids in Need Foundation (KINF). The collection was sponsored by the Young Professionals Network employee resource group. For the 2016 drive, more than 19,000 items were collected and donated to KINF.
Now in its 15th year, our Progressive Education Partnership Program continues to engage with high school students in northeast Ohio and our Colorado Springs locations to experience and practice the technology they learn in the classroom. In 2016, we helped students in these Ohio high schools: Cleveland Heights-University Heights High School, Euclid High School, Mayfield Consortium, Mentor High School, and engaged with students at the Auburn Career Center. We also helped at these Colorado high schools: Discovery Canyon High School, Falcon High School and Pine Creek High School.
Employees volunteered to judge in the 63rd Annual Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair where approximately 600 students from over 100 schools in the area set up their science fair displays to compete for prizes.
In 2016, our STEM Project team introduced two new high school Crash Courses: Pizza Pronto and Physics by Accident. Pizza Pronto puts students in a virtual driver’s seat. They compete in a retro, Web-based, driving game, delivering pizzas while demonstrating safe driving behaviors. They also learn about usage-based insurance. Students collaborate in teams to solve increasingly difficult algebra problems to earn tips for their team. Physics by Accident challenges students to examine a unique, real-life accident scenario from both a physics and insurance perspective. This interactive experience reinforces how the laws of physics play into an accident. And, it teaches how insurance can lessen an accident’s financial ramifications.