Aetna org design

Organizational Design to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Aetna, one of the top five health insurance companies in the US, has made customer centricity one of its prime areas of focus, understanding that this will yield member satisfaction, loyalty, and competitive differentiation. The organization was not aware of their design team capabilities or successes. Realizing culture and organizational design could go a long way to accelerating their efforts, they turned to Mad*Pow to consult and guide a new design process.

Current teams were highly specialized and design was a final step in the process. Research, prototyping, and usability testing were not undertaken to inform digital projects, and there was no cohesive experience strategy to guide member interactions across channels and lines of business. Design was an afterthought and user experience had not yet earned respect as a critical success factor. The question was: Could an outside design agency successfully help Aetna reorganize their digital, design, and innovation teams; reinvent their process; and train people across the organization in design thinking and human-centered design.

Mad*Pow worked hand-in-hand with the Aetna design and innovation team to conduct internal research understand the current process and obstacles to success. We conducted one-on-one interviews and group workshops with individuals from marketing, technology, business, design, and innovation teams to build consensus around current state and opportunities for improvement. We then partnered with leaders, design, and innovation teams to co-create a new process and toolkit that would tackle obstacles. We conducted training with design and innovation team members to help them level up their skills in human-centered design and design thinking so that each would be adept in facilitating and evangelizing the process, in addition to their specialties. The training sessions took a “train the trainer” approach, with the goal of the new process and methodology spreading throughout the organization. Understanding that process and training are not enough, we also looked at cultural and organizational barriers. We identified allies, champions, and ambassadors at the leadership level within across the Aetna organization. We clarified the guiding design principles that would be followed in every interaction and experience so those principles could work their way into the lexicon of the organization. And finally, a cross-functional task force was created and empowered to focus on tackling known obstacles, and be a resource as new obstacles arose.

The new process and toolkit was communicated to the organization, training took place, and new projects leveraging this methodology took flight. Mad*Pow focused first on projects within highly aligned teams, documented and evangelized wins, and began to pull others into the new methodology, over time leveraging the allies and task force. Within two years the design team was no longer generating screenshots in a vacuum and was consulted early on regarding strategy and process, conducting research (nimbly when necessary), prototyping, and testing. Fewer complaints came in through digital assets that had been incrementally improved leveraging the new approach, and positive feedback started to flow from participants in the process and from members themselves. 

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Organizational design to accelerate digital transformation


Adam Connor VP Organizational Design & Training   Contact Adam
Magga Dora Ragnarsdottir Experience Design Director

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