At the start of our first virtual co-creation sprint we asked “What can the insurance industry do to support small businesses in our community through the COVID-19 pandemic?”
The thought process behind our question was simple. We are an industry that was developed out of the idea of community, dedicated to protecting the community from catastrophic losses. We collectively face a situation where the community is being hit very hard by the pandemic. In most cases, the small businesses that are being hit do not have the cashflow nor the coverage for the risk that they are facing right now.
We put together a team of insurance organizations from across the Americas. This was our first-ever virtual co-creation sprint, and we were happy to see the positive response we received! While it was important for us to come up with a way to help, we also wanted the community to empathize with the business owners. After all, this was a rare opportunity to approach the problem with a human-centric focus, allowing the industry to revisit the shared community feeling that it originated from.
Our innovators dedicated 12 hours over 4 days to create a solution to the problem faced by the small businesses in our community. Equipped with the Design Thinking methodology, they set out to understand what small business owners are thinking and feeling during these difficult times.
“We came away feeling very empathetic for the owner we spoke to,” one project attendee said. “He told us about the car rental business he launched in Bermuda last August, and we could tell that he was very passionate about it. Most of his business came from tourists who visited the island, but due to travel restrictions, there are no more visitors. He was looking forward to a big expansion, but he is now forced to put these plans on hold.”
Other members of the team shared in this feeling. In our post-interview review session, one said, “This was a reality check for me. People’s dreams are being put on hold and there is a lot of uncertainty for them as business owners. “
The interviews helped our innovators understand the pain the owners faced, and a few tears were shed while hearing about the struggles they were going through.
What they learned from the owners was valuable. One business owner said, “It helps me to know that I am not alone in this. If my insurance company stands by me during these hard times, I know I will feel more loyal to them in the future.”
The team took the insights they received during these interviews and determined the problem that they would try to solve. They narrowed it down to,
‘How might we encourage and guide our small business owners with access to expert knowledge and community support to give them peace of mind?’
Within 5 minutes, the team came up with 70 solutions to this problem, and together, they selected one answer to focus on. The innovators worked with our team of facilitators to build an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, to help bring their idea to life and create awareness around the solution they would soon offer. The team wanted small business owners to know that they were not alone, and that the insurers were more than willing to offer their time and resources to support the owners.
The team returned to the owners they interviewed and shared with them the prototypes we created. In this second round of interviews, they collected feedback to help them improve their solution.
“This is a breath of fresh air,” an owner said during the testing phase. “This resource is valuable for those who do not have a plan in place to help them. Especially people like me, who are running operations all by themselves. Just knowing that there are people out there who are taking the initiative to help small businesses like myself through these difficult times is a blessing.”
Once the prototypes were finalized, it was time to present the results. The team was joined by many interested audience members who enjoyed the presentation, asking several follow-up questions, including when the solution would be in effect.
At the end, we asked our innovators how their experience of attending our first virtual Sprint had been, and the feedback was incredibly encouraging.
“I really enjoyed the whole process,” one participant told us. “It felt really good to be able to contribute to something meaningful.”
“What I took away from this were concepts of Design Thinking and new remote tools, which I’m really happy to have,” another participant shared with us. “In the future, I know we will be collaborating with clients more remotely. One of the biggest things I left with was empathy for the customer. We definitely had some emotional moments in the interviews, and I think that was helpful in understanding this issue at hand and how we need to step up.”
The experience of hosting a virtual Sprint was fulfilling for our team, as well. Despite the many miles between us all, our virtual Sprint proved that distance is not a barrier when it comes to connecting and collaborating with the rest of the community. We loved seeing insurers from 10 different organizations come together to make a difference, and we look forward to the many collaborations to come!
We will share the actual result of this project very soon with you – stay tuned!
This is the first of many virtual events that we are hosting. We would like to invite you to join our upcoming virtual Sprint, The Urgent Need to Attract and Retain Young Talent, as well as the other events on our calendar. All of our virtual events in May are free of charge to members of the insurance and reinsurance community, as part of our efforts to give back to the community during these challenging times.