- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Innovators: Get Thee to the Lab!

Digital sales have been the hot topic for a few years now.  But while we are developing new tools, we also need to focus on those who use the tools.  I recently had the privilege of seeing both in practice at Cookhouse Lab in Toronto.

Going mobile

Cookhouse Lab has been in business for 15 months, focusing exclusively on “designing, prototyping, and co-creating new and meaningful insurance innovations”. Over that period, Cookhouse has facilitated 18 corporate sessions for insurers, re-insurance carriers, technology consultants, and suppliers.

For this session – “The Future of the Mobile Insurance Agents & Brokers” – there were two facilitators – Sven Roehl, one of the principals at Cookhouse, and Ibeth Ramos, a talented facilitator who stretches the attendees to seek deeper insights and new approaches to design and implementation.

The 3 day session was intended to “create the technical future of the (insurance) sales force to increase customer experience and productivity.”

At the beginning of the session, the five insurer attendees and nine brokers agreed that independent brokers – especially in Canada – were still a strong force.  However, both groups were clearly aware of new distribution methods that could take a significant slice from independent brokers.

As a result, insurers and brokers realized that significant upgrading is required to allow more sophisticated tools and techniques to upgrade the quality  of existing product and distribution.

Enter Cookhouse Approaches ….

Cookhouse methodology identifies the issues and follows a lean structure:

  1. Understand the customer need
  2. Define the opportunity of the problem
  3. Design a solution
  4. Create / build a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP)
  5. Test solution and customer feedback

Behind the scenes, critical success factors guide the steps, with special emphasis on the MVP and customer feedback.  Specific interests include:

  • Design thinking
  • Empathy for the context of the problem
  • Creativity in generating insights and conclusions
  • Rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to the problem context. 

And blending in Carbon-based Life Forms

Throughout the three days, there were several sessions that pushed us to find the best questions and answers.  We were challenged to put sticky notes on a wall in response to questions.  One of the exercises asked us to determine what technologies would be in full use one month, six months, one year, two years, five years and ten years, and what would be the impact.

After these were completed, there was a vetting and an election for the best ideas.  These then became the focus of remediating or replacing tools and approaches in place.

(As an aside, it has been sometime since I have had an operational role, so my offerings were pathetic.  However, the facilitator and the team were very generous in letting me continue.  Hope springs eternal!)

The staff vetted the specifications and, overnight, an Apple iPhone was carrying a staged ‘app’, which showed the functionality of the MVP.  Significantly, the brokers agreed that their thinking was elevated in spite of the short time and that they would like to have this app for clients, prospects, and brokers.

Taking it to the streets…

Cookhouse and other digital support organizations – are providing important assistants to InsurTechs, users, and industry executives. We are blessed to have folks like Ibeth and Sven who offer unique benefits for all who participate in new technologies and approaches.

What’s been your experience?


Editor’s note: Cookhouse Lab provided some interesting tools and techniques at least year’s Insurance-Canada Executive Forum. There’s a rumour going around that they will join us at #ICEF2018 on  28 August 2018. 

Stay tuned…