We recently caught up with Rohan Bhobe, Chief Executive Officer with Nava to discuss the company’s recent wins, their unique approach to pursuing opportunities and partnerships, advice to small business and what the future holds.

Success in Pursuit of Work that Matters

As a Public Benefit Corporation, Nava is careful about its pursuit of opportunities, avoiding the lens of  winning or simply being able to deliver on the work, and instead focusing on whether the outcomes will be valuable if done well. Rohan says, “If we think we can win, know we can deliver, but cannot make a case internally that the project will transform service experiences, program outcomes, or make agencies more adaptable, the project is not right for us.”

Recent wins, including a two-year, $17.6 million prime contract to support the CDC in designing, building, and operating ReportStream, and both a five-year, $23 million prime contract with CMS for their Care Choice Experience 2.0 (CCXP2) initiative, and a $16.8 million prime contract working with CMS to provide infrastructure operations and site reliability services for Medicare Payment System Modernization’s (MPSM) all fit that bill.

Partnerships are Critical

Understanding that even the largest companies cannot do it all on their own, Nava has always sought partners from a dual lens of capabilities, and the potential for shared culture across organizational boundaries.

From the culture view that means implementing due diligence that considers how decisions are made during the course of performance and whether those paths will align. “Winning is just the beginning and may take a year, then you may have five years of performance. We need to understand, when decisions will be made down the road, whether they will turn towards optimizing profit or outcomes.”

The Protege Opportunity

Benefitting from the insights of its own early partners and in the interest of expanding the number of capable firms that provide government with the best options for value, Nava now serves as a mentor to multiple partners.

Just as it does when selecting project partners, Nava does its due diligence when selecting proteges, asking open ended questions that will lead to a clear understanding of a potential partner’s authenticity. Beyond relying on the company’s verbiage, Nava gathers feedback from others who have worked with the team seeking confirmation and support for their decision.

Advice to Proteges

Nava has seen firsthand in its relationships with government partners the accountability they are bound by and works to ensure its mission alignment, so this is part of what it communicates broadly.

Other advice includes not trying to take on the world. “There is complexity to government programs which is more difficult than many assume. We recommend small businesses give themselves an incremental path to learning about a program and to building itself and its team.”

Nava has been intentional about its own growth, avoiding traps that can impact quality. Growing and building with intention produces a healthier business and a more responsible player in the long run.

Intentional Culture

Nava has also been deliberate in its hiring and in the culture it has focused on. “For a mission like ours, we need the best team. We go to great lengths to attract quality talent and then ensure they work amidst a culture that supports their understanding of what we pursue and why and how their role supports making that all real.”

Nava is also deliberate and focused about its goals around diversity, driving towards a staff that reflects more authentically the communities it serves. Public goals, which are reported on annually, include being a majority minority company by 2025.

Employee Resource Groups

Beyond reporting the numbers and planning for diversity, Nava has established a series of Employee Resource Groups that support a consultative and participatory process and ensure an environment that supports the whole of the Nava team.

“Our ERGs help make us stronger and more inclusive. They provide our executive team with varied perspective and insight before decisions are made to include providing input on the design of our new offices.”

Ensuring the success of the ERGs, Nava supports each group in time and resources, compensating leaders, providing opportunities for events and interactions that can promote and raise each group’s visibility within the company.

T-Shaped People

Nava’s approach to identifying talent is best described as seeking a fit to the ‘T’. The vertical confirms depth and functional expertise in a specific area, and the horizontal focuses on ensuring people are team players who can work across boundaries. “From our role as a PBC we are able to tap into talent pools that are unique and focused on and energized by our mission. We are not interested in ego. We know that can tank the culture of a team and get in the way of building healthy structures. Focusing our lens on finding people that have functional depth, and who can build trust, has served us well.”

Alignment Across the Organization

That alignment across the projects it pursues, partners it will bring to the table, the kinds of companies it will mentor, and the talent it seeks to bring onboard means high-level aspirations and practical decisions are made daily from a common ground.

That alignment also ensures that, while driving towards success in critical areas, everyone shares a lens of not taking themselves too seriously. “We have to be careful to not get carried away with intensity of passion, to be logical, methodical and practical in all we do.”

Such efforts are supported by activities including a recent offsite company event and regular and ongoing opportunities for anyone to voice concerns, frustrations and to receive the backup they need.

The Future

Rohan says the future is simple to describe but hard to execute against – requiring that government services be simple, effective and accessible to all with program outcomes that benefit populations and ensuring agencies are adaptable to the changing worlds of legislation, consumer demand and shocks such as the pandemic.

“Agencies need to be natively digital. It isn’t just about a point in time and getting one thing right, but about a stream of outcomes that are aligned to quickly changing needs. The technology must be in place to support what the institution is expected to do and what the public needs at the moment.”

While COVID certainly provided a relatable example, he points to the introduction of the iPhone as another that was pivotal in changing consumer expectations about their interaction with systems. “Government must have the capability to stay on the moving edge of how the world in changing, to address the point in time issue but then move beyond that.”

Growth Ahead

Not yet a decade old, Rohan says most of the impact Nava is pursuing is ahead. “There is so much headroom where we can apply our philosophy. Ninety-five percent of what we want to do is still ahead of us.”

Over time, that means Nava will be able to tighten its criteria, honing in more on those efforts that meet its mission.

About Nava

Nava is a consultancy and public benefit corporation working to make government services simple, effective, and accessible to all. Nava emerged from the effort to help rebuild HealthCare.gov after its troubled launch, and exists to address some of the most complex challenges in the public sector.

Our expert staff think holistically about what we build:

  • simple and accessible service experiences,
  • programs that effectively produce the intended outcomes for the populations they serve, and
  • agencies that are adaptable in a world of continuous change.

Under the highest degrees of constraint, Nava has shown we are a trustworthy partner. We minimize risk, steward our clients’ missions, and achieve outcomes that traditional approaches have never delivered before. We weave these accomplishments into a magnetic and compelling story of transformation, showing we are a force powerful enough to replace the prevailing industry pattern of acceptable and rationalized failure, with a new normal. A normal where the default expectation is that transforming services, programs, and agencies so they can always meet people’s needs is always achievable, always within reach.

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