A Co-Creation Sprint Through the Lens of a Cookhouse Labs Innovator

We invited Cookhouse Labs China Partner Jason Alleyne to attend our first sprint of the year. Read about his experience below!

On March 2020, a 3-day project at Cookhouse Labs tackled an audacious challenge: how to identify, qualify, and classify opportunities and quantify their impact for insurers.

The participants were a truly diverse group, with expertise covering customer journey, product development, operational systems, business consultancy, distribution, and risk management. This diversity of thought and perspective would quickly prove to be beneficial.

Our sprint facilitator, Ibeth Ramos, kept the energy of the room upbeat and high-paced – the sense of urgency is very crucial to giving maximum effort. But the Cookhouse Labs ethos goes deeper than just the process itself. A human-centered approach and solution-focused mindset are the keys to the Lab’s proven success on these “mission impossible” type projects. Every team member’s title, ego, and pre-conceived notions about the solution remain at the door! Instead, strong team dynamics, sharing, and effective play replace the individualism and one-upmanship of the typical corporate realm. This empathy framing provides every team member freedom to maximize the output of the design thinking and lean- startup methodologies.

Here is an overview of the phases the team underwent in the 3-day Sprint:

1. Human to human introductions – we did an exercise that made every participant an equal partner in the process

2. Research the problem topic – then we listed the various challenges that the industry currently faces

3. Interview CEOs in the industry – then we built the persona of Sam, the CEO of Trust Insurance, and created an empathy map for that persona

4. Ideate – we used ideation to refine our challenge into one problem statement

5. Journey map – we developed a journey map for CEO-Sam’s key decision-making milestones for a calendar year. We identified pain points that prevent funding innovation, i.e. insufficient data feeds from actual customers and the tug-of-war between executives asking for bigger budget allocations for existing product lines

6. How might we – we used a “how-might-we” ideation process through iterative rounds to design the prototype of the solution

7. Customer validation – we conducted market validation through direct interviews with Insurance Policyholders by testing our prototype messages with them

8. Final presentation – we presented our prototype and our findings to the Cookhouse community

Please know, the journey will test your current mode of thinking – especially your normal approach to problem-solving. Some takeaways learned along our journey were:

1. Stay in the present and with the pace of the group

2. Properly research and define the problem before jumping to a solution

3. Move forward once a decision is collectively made by the group (remember, there are no egos here)

4. Give each stage in the process equal prominence and equal effort

The group completed a few tasks that they wouldn’t typically perform in their workplace. These include interviewing the customer, building the customer empathy map, evaluating the customer journey for pain points, and direct end-user market validation.

In the end, our team was determined to solve the problem statement: How might we leverage data and prioritize customer centricity in our strategic planning to achieve long term success?”

How innovative was the solution? Well…

  • Our solution did not involve a broker. It is not a new insurance product. And our solution is not a smartphone app.
  • Our prototype was created after interviewing 3 insurance executives. We shared it with 9 insurance policyholders, and their collective feedback was a resounding YES!

That is innovation!!

Innovating to save Community Business During COVID-19

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse LabS

Innovating to Save Community Business During COVID-19

How can the insurance industry support small businesses in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic?

12

HOURS

ONLINE

2020

8

ORGANIZATIONS

3

MVPs

Challenge

How might we encourage and guide small business owners with access to expert knowledge and community support, in order to give them peace of mind?

WHY?

Understanding small business owners’ concerns during COVID-19

SEE

SAY & DO

HEAR

THINK & FEEL

DISCOVERY

As business owners struggle to maintain a cash flow, they seek government financial assistance and alternative revenue streams.

What impact does the COVID-19 pandemic have on small businesses?

How can we help small businesses in our community to maintain a solid cash flow?

What resources (such as skills, tools etc.) do we have available to help small business on short notice?

SOLUTION

Together, the team listed 70 solutions and selected the final idea: a 3-day virtual speed consulting event in partnership with the Big 5 consulting firms.

1

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Posts for Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn were designed to create awareness around the consulting event. “You are not alone,” the text read, and informed small business owners that the insurance organizations would soon announce their solution to help owners through these challenging times.

2

LANDING PAGE

A landing page prototype was created to provide more information about the consulting event. The page offered a countdown to the event start date and introduced the consultants who would be available during the sessions. Details on the event itinerary, a list of FAQs, and additional resources were included in the design, along with a registration section and contact form.

3

INTRODUCTION EMAIL

The team prepared an email to their small business clients to inform them of the upcoming virtual consulting event. The email was divided into sections that were dedicated to introducing the experts, offering event details, and providing information on the additional 1-on-1 consulting sessions that would be made available to these clients.

RESULTS

Over 4 afternoons, the team empathized with small business owners and understood in-depth the struggles and uncertainty they faced.

2

Empathy Maps

1

Customer Journey Map

21

Interview Questions

8

Customer Interviews

70

Initial Solutions

3

MVPs

1

Innovation Report

1

Project Presentation

PARTICIPANTS

We also offer intro sessions that provide insurance professionals with the opportunity to experience our Cookhouse Labs methodology and a sneak peek at what it’s like to co-create and collaborate with our global community. If you are not a Cookhouse Labs member and are interested in finding out more, check out our membership benefits!

Cookhouse Labs and ELITE bring the magic of innovation to China!

Cookhouse Labs and ELITE bring the magic of innovation to China!

Cookhouse Labs is your space to be your most creative and innovative self, and we aim to recreate this space in cities around the globe. This is also why we added the letter ‘s’ to our name. On December 14, we packed our suitcases with the Cookhouse Labs methodology and lots of innovation and jumped on a flight to China!

In collaboration with the ELITE community team, Cookhouse Labs and Impactathon facilitated and conducted a two-day innovation sprint. Impactathon is an innovation community that is inspired by and in collaboration with Cookhouse labs. The sprint was in a hackathon format, with the design thinking and lean startup process adopted by two project teams. These teams were tackling 3 main problem topics facing the industry.

We prepared for the event by creating a WeChat group chat with about 25 participants. Within the chat, we posted recent news articles about community sharing and social entrepreneurship published in the China Daily newspaper. This was a great way to build conversation around the topics a week before the event, and get participants involved and thinking about the sprint!

During the two-day sprint, we split the group into two active problem solver teams. To stay true to our commitment to make insurance better, we ensured that the sprint was collaborative, filled with fun and of course, innovation.
We engaged all members through our WeChat app by posting videos that the teams created from their ideation and prototyping. This was a helpful tool as it was a platform for participants to communicate, collaborate and co-create. Again, following our very core methodology at Cookhouse Labs.

In just 24 hours the participants created Team Orange Host, which is an A-to-Z service for property owners who want to be host for short term rental accommodation. They also created Team Sino-Easy, another multi-sided platform for connecting local Chinese university students with foreign travelers to China for culture exchange experiences.

The results were fascinating!
At the end of the two-day sprint, we had:
– 6 videos
– 2 business model canvasses for global community sharing ideas
– 16 registrants who joined in the market validation
– 4 solvers also won the 4,000 RMB winner prize money!
– 1 solver got to take home the big cheque as a memento!

Stay with us in 2020, as we journey around the world to collaborate and facilitate innovation in the industry!

Come visit us and explore your new home at Cookhouse Labs, visit: www.cookhouselabs.com

Relaunched Cookhouse Labs Base for Insurance Innovation/Disruption from Ideation Through Creation

Cookhouse Labs (www.cookhouselabs.com), InsurTech’s global innovation hub, launched Cookhouse Labs 2.0 this week with a new space in Toronto’s downtown core and a revised menu of programs and innovation opportunities, created based on member feedback.

Cookhouse Labs, which first opened its doors in 2017, offers like-minded insurance pioneers and innovators opportunities to collaborate and co-create to rethink and reinvent insurance. Its new space at 30-34 Duncan St. will play host to myriad innovation/creation sprints, training sessions, lunch & learns and other events that will bring together insurance industry innovators, including insurance companies, brokers, vendors, start-ups and academics.

“With our relaunch, we are actually saying, ‘Welcome Home,’ to all of our members and potential collaborators,” said Sven Roehl, Head of Innovation for msg global solutions and a Co-founder of Cookhouse Labs. “Our ultimate goal is to #MakeInsuranceBetter. During the past nine months, we have taken your input and revamped our Cookhouse Labs menu to meet the needs of the insurance industry and create a home for innovation and collaboration.

“This is your space and we hope you will use it to help the industry meet ever-present challenges.”

Roehl offered opening remarks at the relaunch, followed by a panel discussion featuring three industry professionals: Till Heydel, Vice-President, Strategy & Corporate Development for BI&I/Munich Re; Emily Hill, Manager of Insurance Innovation for CAASCO; and Sam Jazayeri, Producer Team Lead for PrimeService Insurance. They discussed How Collaboration and Co-creation Can Help the Industry to Make Insurance Better.

“We don’t want to innovate for the sake of innovating,” Hill emphasized. Heydel noted, “Technology is not a cost center. Technology is our business model going forward! If we don’t get this, we will not survive.” Jazayeri, speaking as a member of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, noted, “A lot of the young brokers are in the survivor phase, busy fighting fires. … The value is forcing them to take time away, saying, ‘Okay, you’re in a three-day program at Cookhouse Labs. Let’s think about what 2025 looks like … and how can we actually shape it?” Heydel added, “… Cookhouse Labs has been very beneficial for the Munich Re group. … We are extremely fortunate to have this independent lab focusing on insurance in a city like Toronto, five minutes away from our office.”

Ibeth Ramos, Program Manager and Innovation Coach for Cookhouse Labs, reflected that the panel posed questions that need answers, issues that can be tackled collaboratively at Cookhouse Labs. “Cookhouse Labs is a space that encourages self-disruption, one that arose from our vision of a collaborative process of solving industry challenges,” Ramos said.

Entering 2020, Cookhouse Labs will offer programs themed by season, beginning in January with a focus on Insurance Innovation, followed quarterly by the Internet of Things, Customer Experience and International Collaboration. Annual memberships are offered at a discount through Dec. 31.

Cookhouse Labs and InsurLabs Germany Get Busy Innovating in Cologne.

We breathe collaboration – and this summer all the way from Cologne, Germany.

This year we packed our bags and joined forces with InsurLab Germany. We unpacked at their campus and ran a three-days innovation sprint with seven German insurance organizations. The topic of choice was one we have ran before in Toronto  – From Passive Risk Carrier to Active Risk Manager levering on IoT.

It was an awesome experience working with a local Innovation lab and its members and it was fun to do one of our favorite things to do – spread the Cookhouse Lab methodology in a global scale.

By the end of the third day the teams presented two solutions that once overlapped alleviated the pain points mentioned by customers during the interviews each team conducted.

In summary, the participants designed concept solutions based on the impact and benefits of using IoT and the customer-friendly use of data collected from IoT devices.

As always we implemented some dancing, creative team sports and artistic expression as part of the design thinking process and Cookhouse Labs experience.

We look forward to future collaboration with InsurLab Germany – we will keep you posted as they might visit our campus in the near future.

Making Insurance Better with Students, One Summer at a Time

Another summer gone by and another student week at Cookhouse Labs. 

That’s right – we did it again. For the third year in a row we collaborated with the University of Applied Sciences Wuerzburg-Schweinfurt in Germany and the results were, again, awesome.

You may remember our first year we chose a topic of a running project and asked the students to show us what they thought could be possible solutions. Read more about it here – Drone Insurance: Learnings & Wrap Up. Last year we hosted a hackathon and another group of students from Germany were part of the teams. You can read the recap here – Hackathon Recap: Passive Risk Takers to Active Risk Managers.

This year we tried something new. We split the students into three groups and invited some of our members interested in working with young minds with little to zero knowledge of insurance. The results were superb.

Each student group had a mentor (Cookhouse Lab member), they met bi-weekly over Zoom and using the Cookhouse Lab methodology designed their way new innovative ideas.

In August we met in person and dedicated a full week of testing, iterating and strategizing on a business plan.

The results:

  • Close collaboration with young adults
  • Educated youth through mentorship on our insurance industry
  • Three solutions co-created alongside mentors and staff from each member organization
  • Two solutions currently being realized by each member organization
  • One solution being presented in Asia

The fall is here now – well, more like winter – and we are strategizing our next co-creation project with students.

Stay tuned to read more about our next timeline for the student week project. And let us know if you are interested in becoming a mentor of a group of students.

One summer at a time we are making insurance better!

How Can Insurers Contribute to Suicide Prevention Initiatives?

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse Lab

How Can Insurers Contribute to Suicide Prevention Initiatives?

Addressing the issue of preventable suicides in the working population.

3

DAYS

LONDON

2018

8

COMPANIES

3

MVPs

Challenge

Identify triggers – that are visible to insurers​ – and support people with resources that will make a practical difference.

WHY?

Understanding those with Suicidal Thoughts

SEE

SAY & DO

HEAR

THINK & FEEL

DISCOVERY

How can insurers help both the insured and uninsured?

How can current insurer touch points be leveraged?

Can data and technology support our efforts?

Is it possible to help without communicating a hidden agenda?

Maximizing the use of technology will help recognize triggers and better support families with claims.

CONCEPTS

Maximizing the use of technology will help recognize triggers and better support families with claims.

1

A human touch

The solution is simple, but often those can be the most impactful: a handwritten card for the recipient of the claim after a suicide.

This solution provides a small, but personal touch, that humanises a currently formal touchpoint. The card includes information about how to seek help and self-care, and all information would be expertly screened.

Suicide prevention Solution01

2

Penguin Awareness Campaign

The penguin was chosen as the face of the campaign because of its caring nature, and survival in community. 30 Six-foot penguins would be placed around London, fitted with screens that would ask passers-by questions about how they feel, to raise awareness about mental health, and encouraging people to stop, think and interact.

The idea was inspired by best practices around the world showing how a simple question could distract those with suicidal thoughts from acting on them.

Suicide prevention Solution02

3

Insurance industry working group

Due to the interest of the team in taking this topic further as an industry, a working group was proposed to continue the efforts that the Cookhouse Lab had initiated.

The mission of the group is to catalyze actions within the insurance industry, targeted at contributing to suicide prevention initiatives. It will initially run for a 12-month period at which point a review will be held to determine whether or not to continue.

Suicide prevention Solution03

RESULTS

In this three-day sprint, the project team explored in depth this important, and emotive, societal issue.

2

Empathy Maps

1

Customer Journey Map

21

Ideation Questions

17

Lightning Demos

12

Initial Solutions

3

MVPs

1

Innovation Report

3

Project Presentations

PARTICIPANTS

We also offer intro sessions that provide insurance professionals with the opportunity to experience our Cookhouse Labs methodology and a sneak peek at what it’s like to co-create and collaborate with our global community. If you are not a Cookhouse Labs member and are interested in finding out more, check out our membership benefits!

How Can the Insurance Industry Contribute to Suicide Prevention?

In Britain, 17 people die of suicide daily on average, and men are three times more likely to take their own lives as women. Suicides have a tremendous impact on humans emotionally and trigger financial costs, so we decided to run a three-day Pop-Up Lab in London to understand how the insurance industry could contribute potential solutions for suicide prevention in the region.  

Suicide: a societal and insurance industry challenge 

When a claims manager from RGA in the UK raised the issue of how our industry could help prevent suicides, we began exploring the problem and learned of a number of people in the insurance industry who volunteer with non-profit organizations that focus on suicide prevention. 

One of these is Samaritans, a UK non-profit. We learned of a Samaritans marketing campaign that displayed posters on a rail line, promoting their suicide hotline. The result? Suicides on the rail lines decreased by 20 percent. This low-cost initiative clearly helped save many lives, as well as helping the rail industry serve their users better.

Considering how suicide affects our industry, healthcare and society in general (we estimate the UK life insurance industry paid out more than £100m on suicide claims in 2017), we were eager to contribute. Running a sprint using Cookhouse Pop-Up Lab would give us the opportunity to learn more and work with people directly impacted by this crisis in the region. If you think of Cookhouse Lab as a test kitchen, then the Pop-Up Lab is our food truck, bringing our skills and experience to collaborate with local experts in global locations.  

Using our network to bring people together to solve problems 

Despite the sensitive nature of this topic, we found that people were eager to get involved to find solutions for suicide prevention. All of the participants had both a personal and professional (i.e challenge in their organization) connection to this societal issue, and they came together to solve it. 

Usually, when running a Pop-Up Lab, we aim for a group size of six to eight participants. In this case, we had such a strong interest from candidates that we chose nine:  a diverse group of re/insurers, insurers and consultants, many with operational experience in actuary, claims, or underwriting. 

Participants of this Pop-Up Lab were from the following organizations: 

  • Agrippa 
  • Aviva 
  • EY 
  • Legal & General 
  • Munich Re 
  • Pacific Life Re 
  • Reinsurance Group of America 
  • SCOR 
  • Vitality 

 Two experts in the suicide prevention field also joined a session on the first day as masterminds, generously sharing their knowledge and experience to help the project team complete empathy and customer journey maps. In addition, the participants grabbed inspiration from 17 lightning demos about male suicide prevention tactics used by others. With much motivation and purpose, the team cooked up a diverse set of ideas and solutions.

In just three days this fast-moving project team created three solutions to save lives – a tremendous feat! Each solution targets suicide prevention at a different level: specific, macro and strategic. Let’s take a look at what they cooked up: 

Specific: This solution was formed to address the fact that the suicide of a relative can be a trigger event for other suicides. The project team came up with the idea for insurers to send a handwritten condolence note including information on how to seek help and self-care to a suicide-related claimant. This small but personal touch humanizes a currently formal touchpoint and could help reduce the claim suicide as a trigger event for another suicide among family or friends.  

Macro: The next solution was a macro-level campaign to promote mental health awareness and human interaction in London communities. The project team envisioned this happening by placing thirty six-foot penguins around London, which would encourage people to stop, think and interact.  

Strategic: The strategic level solution involved forming an industry working group that would catalyze actions within the insurance industry targeted at contributing to suicide prevention activities. The group would span operational teams (e.g. underwriting, claims) to address suicide from all perspectives in insurance.  

Solving an industry problem in one locale can have a global impact 

The problem of suicide is not limited to the UK. By devoting our attention and resources to thinking deeply about a problem, it shines a light on root causes and issues that people may have ignored  or overlooked. One of the biggest takeaways from this Pop-Up Lab was: don’t be afraid to tackle a sensitive subject. We all benefit when a workable solution is created, because it may spark an idea that can help solve a problem somewhere else. By looking at our industry’s processes through the lens of suicide, we identified many simple steps that could be taken to improve things. 

Similarly, there are other common challenges and problems that exist across the insurance industry and global communities. Doing a deep dive into these challenges in a specific region can trigger a positive change globally. 

Want to get involved with suicide prevention?  

Thank you to all of the participants for bringing their innovative minds and compassion together for this project. If your organization is interested in joining this group of innovators for the next steps for this project, or if you have an idea for another social challenge in need of an insurance industry solution, please contact us. 

Thanks to Jonathan Hughes for sharing insights from facilitating the Pop-Up Lab to contribute to this blog.

Become an industry thought leader. Don’t forget to share.

The future of the Mobile Insurance Agents & Brokers

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse Lab (in partnership with SAP)

The Future of the Mobile Insurance Agents & Brokers

What unites the majority of the sales experts in the industry is the necessity to be mobile to stay or become a trusted advisor.

3

DAYS

TORONTO

2018

13

COMPANIES

2

MVPs

Challenge

Digitizing insurance sales with technology to increase sales performance and improve customer experience.

WHY?

Our personas Pains & Gains

CUSTOMER

PAINS

GAINS

BROKER

PAINS

GAINS

DISCOVERY

What are the digital expectations and requirements of an agent, broker and customer equally?

How can we help the salesforce to stay relevant, sell more and admin less?

How can we leverage technology trends to increase sales performance and improve customer experience?

What can we learn from other industries?

Maximizing the use of mobile technology will improve customer satisfaction.

CONCEPTS

The final output of the project was a Portfolio Solution that included two different products.

1

DIScovery and awareness app

Carebear app is a referral product to help our customer persona (Sandra) through the car insurance journey with the aim to validate the following problem statement:

How might we communicate our products and processes more effectively and efficiently to give Sandra clarity and confidence that she’s taken care of?

2

Brokers integrated portal

MOBiBro is an integrated application focused on our broker persona (Dave). The problem statement:

How might we provide Dave with technology and data access anywhere to become a better advisor so he can sell more and quicker?

RESULTS

During the 3 days, our project teams looked to define the Opportunities and Implicants that technology brings to the future of brokers and agents.

2

Empathy Maps

9

User Interviews

39

Surveys

2

Personas

15

Wireframes

25

MVP Screens

2

Prototype Iterations

1

Project Presentation

PARTICIPANTS

We also offer intro sessions that provide insurance professionals with the opportunity to experience our Cookhouse Labs methodology and a sneak peek at what it’s like to co-create and collaborate with our global community. If you are not a Cookhouse Labs member and are interested in finding out more, check out our membership benefits!

Hackathon Recap: Passive Risk Takers to Active Risk Managers

Cookhouse Lab hosted its second annual Hackathon which challenged participants to find solutions to move from passive risk takers to active risk managers. The Hackathon had twenty-four participants which included professionals from various organizations including CAA, Gore Mutual, Munich Re, and Jauntin. These professionals also had the chance to work with thirteen talented students from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (FHWS).

Check out the recap below to discover the problem being tackled, solutions created and methodologies used to ensure a successful experience.  

The Problem to Be ‘Hacked’: Moving from Passive Risk Takers to Active Risk Managers

Looking at the technology surrounding our industry and society, we thought it would be a great time to find solutions that will shift stakeholders from passive risk takers to active risk managers. Gone are the days where insurers wait for a claim to happen. With IoT sensors, phones, and wearables, we are collecting data 24/7 which allows us to define an individual’s norm.

As a result, we can assess any deviation in real-time and act accordingly. From the customer perspective, they can see their behavior in a cumulative manner, are more involved in what they do and understand the real-time impact of their behavior and lifestyle choices. Not only on their life but also on their policies, for example, Vitality’s pay as you drive program.

As an industry, becoming risk-managers means savings, not just financially, but also making a positive change in the lives of our customers. Savings lives – supporting healthier lifestyles, behaviors and choices that will prolong healthier lives.

Stepping back and looking at these two aspects, we felt the gains were clear in hosting a Hackathon that would tackle moving towards being active risk-takers in Cookhouse Lab.

Highlights From the Solutions Created

The teams worked vigorously through the two-day Hackathon to develop impressive solutions for the problem at hand. Let’s take a glimpse at two of the solutions the teams cooked up:

  • A Dynamic Action Rewards Program: rewards can be redeemed as policy discounts, cash or new insurance products.
  • Travel insurance with focus on home and pet security: a package that covers the things you leave behind when travelling.

Using Masterclasses to Educate Quickly and Effectively

For some participants, this Hackathon was their first tie being exposed to this kind of experience as well as design thinking and lean methodologies. Because of this, education was an important component. However, given the short duration of the Hackathon, the education had to be quick, effective and valuable. Cookhouse Lab used masterclasses to accomplish this.

Masterclasses are thirty-minute presentations delivered by an Innovation Coach, a UX/UI designer, and/or Head of Innovation.

The purpose of these sessions was to provide:

  • A road map/structure that participants could use to make the most of their time
  • A chance to learn about a variety of tools typically used in the labs for sprint projects and how to apply them
  • An opportunity to detach from the intensity of the hackathon, refresh and go back to work with a clear mind

Bringing Together Diverse Backgrounds

One of the key ingredients to a successful Hackathon is having a diverse set of participants. From what we have witnessed at other projects at Cookhouse Lab, the more diverse backgrounds you bring together, the better – as everyone can contribute from their personal experience.

This Hackathon, in particular, brought together participants from varying backgrounds ranging from computer science and e-commerce to experienced underwriters, digital innovators, and software developers. All of whom were able to work together to find solutions to improve insurance.

In addition to bringing different skill sets together, having students team up with working professionals brought another element of diversity. The teams were able to successfully integrate their ideas, learn from different perspectives and expand their thinking from local experience to international insights. Both left feeling impressed and inspired by each other.

What did the ‘hackathoners’ take away from this experience?

  • an understanding of design thinking and how to apply it
  • tips and tricks from experts featured during masterclasses
  • lo-fi prototypes to take back to their organizations
  • new connections (local and international)
  • the achievement of conquering a two-day Hackathon 

Overall, this Hackathon was another successful innovation experience served up at Cookhouse Lab. We’d like to extend a huge thank all of our participants for dedicating two days of productivity, creativity and hard work into finding solutions to address an industry challenge.

Want to learn about other upcoming projects?

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