The Culture of Innovation vs The Work of Innovation

Last Updated April 4th, 2022

Lee Jelenic, UWM, United Wholesale Mortgage, Chief Innovation Officer, The Customer Experience Podcast, innovation, CIO, innovative, culture of innovation, Ford, Ford Motor, Ford Motor Company


Listen to “193. The Culture of Innovation vs The Work of Innovation w/ Lee Jelenic” on Spreaker.

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When brands limit innovation to tasks, projects, and work, they restrict the potential and promise that every team member brings to the table.

On the other hand, when innovation is ingrained into the company culture through core values or through modeling and example, it isn’t stifled or directed. It’s organic, meaningful, and happening at all times — innovation is everywhere.

Today’s guest is Lee Jelenic. Lee is the Chief Innovation Officer at United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM). Lee believes that UMV serves clients (not customers) with team members (not employees). He demonstrates how they live out their company’s core values, including innovation, through a commitment to continual improvement and to preserving the human touch.

Before joining UWM, Lee served as the VP of Marketing for Ford Motor Credit Company, the CEO of Ford Commercial Solutions, and led marketing for the Lincoln brand. He also spent four years at JP Morgan in their Capital Markets group… and two years as a professional hockey player.

Today Lee shares how UWM has achieved an impressive Net Promoter Score (on a scale of negative 100 to 100, it’s 87) by employing people (all in the same physical space) to field well over 20,000 calls per day. For Lee and the UWM team, it’s critical that clients going through one of the most significant financial transactions of their lives do so with the trust, connection, and competence they can only find in and with other people.

Lee and I also discussed:

How positive client experience helps to cut through the noise
Why “client” signifies a longer-term relationship than “customer”
What guiding philosophy led to growth from 2K to 8K team members
How the value of innovation is expressed throughout the company
Where humans and tech should intersect



The Culture of Innovation vs The Work of Innovation

Hear Episode 193 and any/every other conversation of The Customer Experience Podcast in your favorite podcast player …

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We also embed the full conversation and make it searchable right here in these blog posts. The recording with Lee Jelenic is right here …

Listen to “193. The Culture of Innovation vs The Work of Innovation w/ Lee Jelenic” on Spreaker.



LinkedInHeadlineQuote EP193 LEEJELENIC V1 quote1 | BombBomb



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Video Highlights: The Culture of Innovation vs The Work of Innovation

Check out the top five video highlights from the discussion with Lee Jelenic


1. Customer Experience is The Only Thing That Matters



2. Preserving Culture Through Rapid Growth



3. Innovation Culture Versus Innovation Work



4. Why Humans Answer 20,000-30,000 Phone Calls



5. Importance of Human Accessibility


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LinkedInHeadlineQuote EP193 LEEJELENIC V1 quote2 | BombBomb



Ethan Beute | About The Author

Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, host of The Customer Experience Podcast, and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Human-Centered Communication and Rehumanize Your Business, Ethan Beute collects and tells stories of clearer communication, human connection, and higher conversion through simple, personal video messages. BA: University of Michigan. MBA: University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

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