Design for Innovation


Interview with Todd Boyer

“After that wonderful book you made with the writing that inspired a whole new generation of Motorists employees, they decided to let us in the door and build something,” Todd joked. WSA Studio was selected to create a master plan for the Columbus campus of Motorists Mutual Insurance Group which aligns with the CEO’s objectives for the future, Vision 2021. The innovation center was the first step in the process due to huge demands placed on the IT department, which is the driving force for innovation. Vision 2021 starts with the IT department. The goal was to create a space where each person could work in collaboration with one another. This space played a crucial role in its location. It’s along the entrance path for all the employees and visitors, so it energized and enlightened employees on the future of their workplace. “Everyone could finally see that things were beginning to happen,” Todd said of the space.

“Okay, so…” I started in.

“Don’t ask me one of those boring questions,” Todd mocked.

“Hey! I’m not. What makes this space an innovation center?”

“Ohhh! How do you define innovation?” He asked.

“How do you define innovation?” I quickly countered. 

“It’s not how I define it; it’s how Motorists defined it,” he replied just as quickly.

“But how does their definition compare to your definition?” I asked. “I’m killing it today.”

“Okay… I’ll give you the old guy answer.” Todd said he didn’t think anything he does with his designs are innovative. It’s nothing inventive with the same old materials always used. It’s the way the pieces and parts fit together. He told me the existing facility was from the 70s. The model of work place was very traditional and aligned with the era. It hadn’t evolved to mirror the Vision 2021 and it didn’t support the future of the company. “Our design supported the way they desired to work and also pushed them to a point they didn’t know they’d be comfortable with. You fulfill their requirements and lead them to the next steps they haven’t even thought of yet,” Todd said. “We worked parallel to their vision.” 

Technology is fluid, so providing the IT department with a space that will work for them now as well as in the future is the goal of an innovation center. It’s providing an opportunity to innovate. “We aren’t innovative. We foster innovation,” Todd said.