How should an established insurance company embrace the digital tidal wave affecting the industry? Many businesses are creating internal innovation labs but, despite good intentions, people’s great ideas can be hampered by traditional structures and mindsets.
After speaking at an InsurTech event we were approached by the head of innovation at a leading UK Insurer who needed help with making a success of their new lab. This was an opportunity to free up creative capacity and introduce new ways of thinking into the business.
Our client saw two areas for improvement. He wanted his team to get better at talking with customers in order to understand their motivations and needs. He also wanted to introduce creative problem-solving processes specifically designed for rapid exploration of digital platforms and communications.
We were also asked to create an environment where company’s executive team and its broker network could begin to ‘think like a start-up’.
Understanding the business context
We started by going back to basics. Our sponsor helped us to understand the company culture and some of the potential challenges he faced. There are many nuances to a Life and General insurance business and the relationships with the brokers and direct channels. We identified the areas where we could achieve the most effective breakthroughs in the first stage of the project to help generate some early wins.
We wanted to ensure that the goals for the client’s innovation lab were consistent with the corporate strategic goals for this specific company. Our preparatory work meant that we arrived at the lab with a good understanding of the business needs.
In a two-day visit to the innovation lab, we led our client through a process of exploring and testing a range of assumptions and options for what their lab could be, before settling on a clear purpose and guidance on how it should operate.
Along the way, we shared some of the tools that we use to bring out creativity in teams. Our expert sketchers and storytellers spent a morning with the lab team bringing their ideas to life through storyboarding, while at the same time showing them how to adopt these techniques into their own way of working.
We then took this thinking outside of operations and technology into the broker space and ran a high-impact workshop with 100 brokers at the company’s annual conference. Using a practical example relevant to the audience, we helped this large group unlock ideas that they had previously felt incapable of producing, demonstrating the practical impact of creative problem-solving.
New ways to collaborate
For a largely siloed business, collaboration was an important theme. We brought together a group of 15 people from across different business units and locations and we asked them to be change agents, embracing an entirely new way of collaboration. We encouraged them to open up and talk about the real challenges they faced and suggestions for improvement. We ran exercises to rapidly prototype new ways of working and then tested those ideas directly with company Executives. Together we were able to facilitate a shift in thinking of what was possible.
The impact of change
Our client is seeing examples across the company where people are thinking more creatively about what they can achieve with digital. We’ve opened up new ways to collaborate such as using simple sketches to express ideas.
Our client’s innovation lab has now established a strong identity within the organisation and its impact is being felt. With a limited investment in time and money, we were able to arm our client with some practical tools and give people the confidence to propose and explore new ways of doing business.