Closing Quote: Want Innovation? Ask the Right Questions

By Eric Kasen, Craig Dandrow and Owen Callaghan | November 7, 2016

Innovation is a hot topic, with websites, researchers, authors and consultants sharing insights and revelations about how businesses can be more innovative in a continually challenging economy.

While innovative businesses typically point to famous industry disrupters like Apple, Google, Amazon and Uber for creating new products and services while ramping up the quality of consumer experiences, pioneers do not have to have a household name. Smart, nimble insurance brokerages regularly deliver innovative programs using the same principles that have made major disrupters famous.

According to a study of insurance sector innovation by KPMG International, disrupters and innovators do not necessarily create something brand new, such as a new coverage or programs. Instead, they learn from traditional competitors and other disrupters, and they leverage successes and experiences to create new propositions and approaches to “delight customers and create value.” Disrupters, by nature, are always customer-centric.

Innovators do not take the first solution they come up with. Instead, they ask questions: How can I make this better? What can I learn from the past? What approaches can I borrow from other industries/companies to make something old new again?

When it comes to innovation, bigger is not always better.

Innovation is built on generating a lot of ideas, learning from successes and failures, and putting together something new through this process. This is the key, according to Wharton professor and author Adam Grant’s book, “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.” He notes that “originals learn to see failure not as a sign that their ideas are doomed, but as a necessary step toward success. “A failure signals a gap in knowledge or a poor strategy, and motivates us to go back to the drawing board and get it right. Without failure, complacency can creep in.”

Innovators regularly identify gaps in their knowledge that may lead to failure. Such experience creates a strong, cross-pollinated breeding ground for new approaches. A recent Wall Street Journal article on innovation reports that “most companies continue to assume that innovation comes from that individual genius, or, at best, small, sequestered teams that vanish from sight and then return with big ideas. But the truth is most innovations are created through networks – groups of people working in concert.”

Innovators identify and try out ideas to find approaches that work best – and customers benefit from a range of choices. Are you giving your customers options or offering the “one-and-only proprietary solution that they’ll ever need?”

When it comes to innovation, bigger is not always better. One of the most valuable attributes of innovators is their independence, giving them the ability to find and develop the best ideas, regardless of source.

How does independence play out in the insurance sector? It means a broker can provide the widest range of program choices that meet customers’ needs. Privately held, debt-free, independent brokers can also review the entire marketplace to find solution-neutral options that are not tied to any one carrier or to their own ownership interests.

Leadership consultant and author Simon Sinek is often quoted for his insight into why customers choose innovative companies: “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

Customers want their broker to provide innovative solutions that still satisfy the basics of providing the right coverage, controlling expenses, and delivering exceptional, experienced service – all in the name of helping their company thrive in a more competitive economic environment that rewards the innovators of our world.

Editor’s note: The above is an edited version of an article that was previously posted on Hays Companies’ website on Aug. 2, 2016.

Topics Insurtech

About Eric Kasen

Kasen is president of Hays Cos. Northeast

About Craig Dandrow

Dandrow is employee benefits practice leader at Hays Cos. Northeast

About Owen Callaghan

Callaghan is property & casualty practice leader at Hays Cos. Northeast

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