innovation in the insurance industry – strategic imperative and cultural barometer
As I see it, there are three main factors that ensure the long-term viability of a business:
- Sound processes to ensure delivery of products or services
- A defined Customer Experience (Cx) proposition to engage people in your business
- A mechanism to drive continual innovation, as an internal and external game changer
Paradoxically in an industry that, by its own definition, can be risk-averse and conservative, the insurance market is also widely seen as the most likely to be affected by disruptive factors. According to a recent PWC survey, 67% of CEO’s are ‘extremely concerned’ about the known and unknown threats of technological change on changing customer behaviour and competition in the market.
In fact, they’re in a perfect storm caught between constantly managing the tension of legislative control with integrity and brand value, and balancing this against the ever-shifting dynamics and demography of how customers interact with them through multiple channels whilst assessing the ‘value’ or usefulness of each product.
The challenge is very much about being great at delivering promises made today (within the parameters of regulation) whilst also shaping the future by putting energy into bringing change and innovation to the business. Exciting or terrifying? You decide.
Innovation is often seen as a lofty ideal, best suited to emerging tech businesses who are bringing better solutions to market to meet our unarticulated needs. As one executive said to me, “it all sounds very Californian”. The reality is that ‘innovation’ is a reality and a strategic imperative for every organisation, every sector, and every market. What we consistently see in organisations that get it right, is a mindset that puts innovation firmly in the domain of every department, not as a ‘do when required’ imperative but as a core responsibility of business as usual. It requires a fundamental shift in thinking, focus and effort.
In its purest form innovation works when ideas flow both up and downstream and from outside in. It is most effective when it isn’t linked to ‘the big idea’ but to bringing changes that reflect new ideas, create better outcomes or push boundaries in every context. Any business claiming to be an innovator should be able to point to every level in every department and demonstrate innovation around customer experience, technology shift, process adaption and talent nurturing. From this approach comes a business that can move at pace, enjoys the discretionary effort, reinforces customer experience and can generate task output to navigate or shape the landscape around them.
In my view internal business influencers who want to be in the vanguard of change need to consider :
- Partnerships and collaboration, that challenge the current model
- Agile processes for identifying best practice that enables not hamper
- Reducing hierarchy to enable and support an enterprise culture
- Putting innovation firmly on the agenda as a demonstration of a healthy thriving culture
- Attracting, developing and retaining talent who are open and curious about driving change
- Creating and owning the business story around innovation that becomes a brand differentiator
Change the conversation, change the culture
Here’s what I think – there’s a chain of events that start with the questions we ask to create the conversations that galvanise the curiosity that drives innovation. The challenge is that these sparks will fizzle and die if they’re not supported and owned by senior teams with a strategic imperative to shape the future. In fact, I’d go so far as to say these vital conversations are the barometer of a healthy culture and a vibrant business that thrives on free-flowing curiosity, challenge and an open invitation to innovate at a local and strategic level.
What it comes down to is people because people drive product development, create service experiences and drive customer engagement. So here’s a simple question:
‘Do you truly believe that the future success in all areas of your business relies on the competence and motivation of your people?’
If the answer is ‘yes’, then the next question is “how do we develop individuals, management and executive teams to understand, advocate, nurture and clear the path to allow people to develop?”
Blue Sky is an award-winning performance improvement company. We create solutions that drive business results through the development of people. We would love the opportunity to tell you more about what we do and how we do it. With over 20 years’ experience of driving cultural and performance improvement in the insurance sector, the team at Blue Sky know what it takes for leaders to respond to these challenges and be ready to shape an exciting future.
So why don’t we have a chat?
I would love to hear your thoughts and understand your own views around the role of innovation in business.
I’m more than happy to supply the biscuits if you can provide the tea!