If we had a dollar for every time the mantras of Innovation and Collaboration were invoked at the recent ACORDLOMA Forum in Las Vegas, we’d have easily paid for our hotel bill and several meals. There were lots of references to innovative thinking, collaborative processes, innovative products, collaborative technologies, innovative delivery mechanisms….(you get the point). This could have been just exercise in new buzz phrases, but, fortunately, there were examples of disciplines being applied to assist in reaching real, quantifiable results.
We’d be interested in your thoughts. Can innovation and collaboration be operationalized to produce desired results?
Chubb & Son Put Innovation Into Process
Case in point was the presentation by Jon Bidwell, SVP and Chief Innovation Officer at Chubb & Son on ‘social Innovation in P&C Insurance’. Bidwell cited what he referred to as the ‘Good Idea Paradox’, which says that while rigorous, repeatable processes are at the core of most modern management practices (e.g., six-sigma, LEAN, etc.), formal processes rarely yield innovation. Moreover, empirical research (including Bidwell’s work at Chubb) demonstrate that when asked for suggestions, the highest value contributions tend to come from the lowest volume contributors to the process.
To address this, Bidwell has introduced an ‘Innovation Platform’ at his company which facilitates cross departmental discussions of suggestions using a social media metaphor. In addition, the platform has tool to rapidly capturing ideas and patterns of conversations. alternatives and facilitates rigorous scoring of the results in a time delineated framework.
Bidwell provided an example of a suggestion by a field marketer for a mobile tool which was taken from idea to working application in 60 days.
In practice, the technology platform is Microsoft Sharepoint with tools that analyze users’ patterns of utilization and content analysis. The user interface is designed to resemble social media which provides for ease of introduction to a large percentage of the user base.
At present, this platform is contained within the Chubb organization, but Bidwell indicated there are some discussions about taking this to select business partners.
Collaboration For the Masses
Karen Furtado and Mark Breading, partners at analyst/consulting firm Strategy Meets Action (SMA), note that collaboration is a key element in extending innovation across organizational boundaries. More significantly, there are methods that can be used by organizations of any size to funnel collaborative methods into operational actions with two techniques: Ideation and Crowdsourcing.
The concept of Ideation is simple. Get front line individuals to bring an idea to the table that would improve products, services, or processes. Each member of the group defends his or her position and at the end there is consensus developed through some ballot process. This can be done within an organization or, as Furtado and Breading noted, across organizations, e.g. carriers and agents.
The use of social technologies – such as Twitter and LinkedIn – allows this principal to go a wider group (Crowdsourcing). In order two bring some discipline to this, SMA recommends that the results of the crowsourced ideas be vetted by organizations with a structured methodology.
What Do You Think?
Insurance depends on predictability and, by definition, innovation and collaboration encourage some unpredictable behaviour. Are the techniques above methods to channel unpredictability into new, productive results?
Collaborate with us and share your thoughts.