The Recipe for a Successful Startup Collaboration

During the spring of 2020, we took on the industry challenge of Collaborating with Startups — read more about it here. Although the team chose to focus on one pain point, let’s go over what works best (what startups appreciate most) when collaborating with large insurance organizations. 

1. Shared Vision 

Startups are often founded on the basis of customer needs that are unfulfilled in the market. Founders are often so inspired by their discoveries that they are willing to take bigger risks and try new things than the average established organization. As we spoke to several startups during our sprint, we uncovered that a common element founders sought in their partnerships was a shared vision. Without this, they told us, their large insurance counterparts were less willing to take risks and less open to big ideas and possibilities.  

As you seek out a startup partner to collaborate with, openly discuss your vision and goals for the collaboration beforehand. Finding a perfect fit will lead to a powerful partnership, so be sure to align on these topics early on! And make sure you, yourself, are clear on that vision, what is flexible and what is non-negotiable.

2. Speed 

Many of our startup interviewees felt that large carriers had long internal bureaucratic processes that slowed the partnership down. One of our founders even told us the story of an unpleasant experience she had with a partner organization. While trying to arrange a meeting, she noticed the partner frequently rescheduled until a month passed by. The reason for rescheduling? An unavailable conference room! Such obstacles can delay the overall time to market, and we found this was a common pain point for startups. 

When structuring your collaboration model, be sure to agree on a timeline that makes both partners feel respected and accommodated. This will create a positive experience and lead to faster outcomes that can secure potential future collaborations. Even more, be clear as to why you are rescheduling. On this example, the experience could have been better if the partner would have been clear about the why, the startup founder could have also helped out, maybe she had access to a meeting room. Remember, in all relationships, communication is key. 

3. Strong Communication 

This area is so vital, that it’s worth mentioning again. Often startups get lost in insurers’ long bureaucratic processes and are excluded from early strategy discussions. When they are finally brought in, many key decisions have already been made that do not align with the startups’ goals and visions. Our interviewees cited strong communication and inclusion as one of the most important elements, as this consideration made them feel supported and respected by carriers.  

Including these partners early on will build trust in the relationship and create a win-win outcome for everyone involved. We highly encourage you to discuss a suitable communications strategy to ensure a smooth collaboration experience! And respect that strategy.

And there you have it. We are part of an industry where we are often looking to partner up, support or even found a new startup. Now you have some insights on what is needed to make sure your partnership or own creation heads to success! 

Join our summit! Who knows – the startup you’ve been looking for just might be there. To learn more about how you can get involved in the summit, reach out to us by clicking here

The Human Side of Innovation

The Human side

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

— Steve Jobs

Innovation is a word that has been used over and over in the last years. Everyone wants to be innovative; everyone wants to launch an innovative solution, and everyone wants innovation all around. The interesting part about these wants is that most people expecting innovation expect it fast, easy and comfortable, when really it requires patience, patience and patience! Innovation requires patience to move through the interviews and research phase; patience to embrace the failings during testing phases and learning how to accept feedback; and patience to step out of the comfort zone.

I have spoken to many people who visit our innovation lab and many mention the disappointment they have experienced when it comes to innovation, the frustration with the design methodologies and working with teams, and the pain of seeing ideas change over and over through testing phases. Yes! Not so pleasant descriptions. And these descriptions come from top down. It is no coincidence they first questions they ask are, “Can you help us get to an innovative place and help us understand what we are doing wrong?” and “Can you help our team understand why we are not coming up with innovative ideas?”.

Of course we can!

What is innovation about?

What does innovation mean to you? The most popular answers are new, fun, useful, building from something old and make it new. No matter which way we look at them, all the above require a set of fundamental steps like:

  • Research (to understand the problem and what already exists)
  • Listen with human-centric mindset (to understand the need)
  • Test (to understand usefulness) and
  • Remain open to change (to either create something new or shift on something that already exists)

In a nutshell, innovation is about being open to change based on research, testing, etc. And let’s be honest, that word “change” is not something that people are always excited to do, especially when there is uncertainty, which you know exists when working in innovation. Being open leads to accepting the fact that to create this amazing product, service, or idea, one must be prepared to change rapidly and often. And experiencing change leads, in most cases and at some point, to hitting a wall of (as most people relate to innovation) frustration and pain. But why the frustration and pain? And why, many times, giving up? Well, because we forget about the most important element in innovation. YOU!

What is the most forgotten and overlooked element in innovation?

The most forgotten element in the journey of creativity and creating something new is the HUMAN and all that comes with it. Let’s break it down:  we know that to be able to create something ground-breaking, we have to be open to uncertainty and change. We already know that for most of us humans, those words most often lead to fear. Then how can we expect to create anything revolutionary when we forget the human side of innovation? That involves you, the team member and/or you, the team leader and/or you, the decision maker. No matter what your role is in an innovative journey, you must be aware of your human side, which includes mindset, attitude, behaviors, and patterns. In summary, it asks that we remember that we are human and, based on our day and how we are feeling in the moment when we are working on our solutions, innovation and creativity will be impacted. Therefore, it is vital to remember this important fact – the human side.

How can one unlock and embrace the human side of innovation? Empathy and Courage

Empathy! Not only is it important to have empathy for customers when using creative methodologies, it is also vital to practice empathy with your team members and yourself. Empathy will organically create a safe place for creativity to show up and live.

Courage! Have the courage to trust the process; time and time again, we hear stories of creative minds solving problems and creating pioneering solutions. These creations happen when the team trust a process that is proven, even though the path to the answer is not clear, and when the team move past fear and doubt and into an uncomfortable place of trust.

In summary …

Accept that sometimes you and/or your team will have bad days, not because of the project or because of the team, but because you or one of the team members may be going through a challenging time on a personal level, or perhaps there are limiting beliefs that are blocking the flow of creativity. Perhaps it is the first time you allow yourself to trust a new process. Regardless of the reason why – the answer is patience.

 “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” 

— Arnold Bennett

Want more insights from our Lead Innovation Coach?

Join our upcoming free 1-hour Introduction to Design Thinking session, where Coach Ibeth will walk you through the first 2 key steps to get you moving to an innovative idea. Check out this session and other global opportunities on our 2021 Events Calendar here!

Co-Creating the Future with InsurTech Startups

Co-creation with startups

Chances are, you’ve heard about InsurTech startups.

It’s hard to miss them especially during these times, where words like Innovation, Creativity, Inspiration have become so popular. These startups are the trendy contrast to sluggish corporate giants, fast-paced and full of “positive vibes”. They’re exciting, unpredictable, and sometimes even hard to keep up with. The lucrative amounts of raised capital and young founders behind the ideas often make headlines, and these startups have now become a picture of the modern-day collaborative workplace and inspiration for young generations.

But these startups are more than open concept desks, bottomless beverages, and dog-friendly offices that they’re known for. InsurTech startups possess the agility and vision to adapt in the face of difficulties, and as recent events have shown, they have incredible survival skills.

Here are 3 insights we can gain from InsurTech startups:

1. These startups are champions of transformational technology

It’s no secret that larger companies deal with cultures that resist change. Traditional mindsets dedicate less of their tight budgets to innovation and more to maintaining legacy systems, pulling corporate giants even further into the past. A single change must be approved by countless decision-makers before it can be implemented, and it is likely that the idea will be snuffed out long before it makes it to the end of the list.

Compare this to the startup model. These smaller companies are entirely focused on innovation and creating their own futures, making them willing adapters of new technologies. They concentrate on the main purpose – creating a solution for their customer, a solution they know takes away pain. A common goal means less resistance to change. And so, these companies develop a unique decision-making and decision-implementing agility that is unmatched by corporate giants.

2. These startups know the secret to retaining employees despite lean budgets

Startups are continuously adapting, learning, and growing. They focus on sustainable scalability and possess a growth mindset that larger organizations often lose sight of. Startups focus on creating an environment to promote the growth of their employees, allowing for meaningful, high impact work that centers around shared core values. Their team is their family.

In comparison, corporate giants have many obstacles to overcome in order to transition out of a performance-based culture. Employees in these companies are offered raises and promotions in order to retain them, but the lack of connection or fulfillment causes these companies to lose employees anyway.

Startups recognize that there is more to motivation than money and have successfully harnessed this to win their employees’ loyalty and commitment.

3. Startups have knocked over organizational silos for good

Traditional silos are one of the biggest pain points for large companies. Employees prefer to stay within their departments and keep valuable knowledge to themselves, often due to competition.

Startup culture is all about collaboration and knowledge-sharing. A single employee wears many hats within the company and can offer a multi-dimensional skillset. All members of the team are united by the common goal they work towards.

When the startup wins, everyone wins. It’s a family celebration.

Organizations must adapt the startup mindset so that they may thrive. As many companies recognize the need to become agile and accelerate innovation, they have turned to startups to help them with this transformation.

In our co-creation Sprint next week, we will explore ways organizations can use to collaborate with InsurTech startups. What is the delicate balance between accelerating competition while encouraging learning and collaboration? How can you find the right collaboration partner? How can you eliminate conflicts of interest during the partnership? And most important – ask InsurTech startups what collaboration means to them.

We invite you to join our team of innovators as we find a collaborative solution during this innovation project, beginning on Tuesday, May 26th. Join the project here!

Lunch & Learn with SAP – The Path to the new normal for Insurance and Banking

It is increasingly clear that our era will be defined by a fundamental schism: the period before COVID-19 and the new normal that will emerge in the post-viral era: the “new normal.” Now, more than ever, Banking and Insurance providers need real-time insights to help them make data-driven decisions and better collaborate with their customers, their employees as well as their partners.

Please join us for a live interactive webinar during which Yasmin Beddek, Enterprise Account Director will host Timm Schindler, Program Manager AOK Plus (AOK is the largest statutory health insurer in Germany) and Nadeem, Shaikh, Sr. Manager, Enterprise Producer Management at a Leading Insurance provider in the United States. The conversation will revolve around industry-specific challenges and opportunities.

The webinar will allow you to learn how world-class organizations are using customer experience tools to:

  • Increase agent and employee satisfaction and engagement by delivering timely, accurate compensation reports and payments.
  • Compete for external agent loyalty by offering better service.
  • Build and integrate a digital Commerce platform and marketplace where other providers could offer their services online.

As we navigate this unprecedented era, SAP remains focused on ensuring the health, well-being, and livelihoods of our employees, customers, and communities. Visit Practical Help to Tackle COVID-19 Disruptions to access free technologies and current resources that can support and guide your business forward. 

Organizer: SAP, Cookhouse Labs, msg global, Canidium

Venue: On Demand (recording of a live virtual webinar)

Duration: 1 hour, 28 minutes

AGENDA

11:00 AM – Keynote: Current challenges and industry trends

11:15 AM – Voice of Customer on Commissions – Canadium

11:30 AM – Customer Story: A Leading Insurance provider in the United States

11:45 AM – Voice of Customer on Commerce Cloud – MSG

12:00 PM – Customer story: AOK: The largest statutory health insurer in Germany

12:15 PM – Q&A and Closing Thoughts

4x Afternoon Innovation Sprint: Collaborating with InsurTech Startups

Our gift to you in these challenging times: Open and Free for Insurers, Reinsurers, Brokers, Insurance-Related Startups, and Academia.

Most insurance organizations are like ocean liners, difficult to steer and slow to change directions when it comes to innovation – especially at the pace that the market requires nowadays. Internal processes, over-regulation, outdated IT systems, risk aversion and lack of openness for change are only a few of the reasons why insurance organizations lack struggle to become an innovation anticipator.

In order to keep pace with the accelerating rate of innovation, an increasing number of organizations are investing in or collaborating with startups. Although the corporate investment in startups has tripled, the success of these initiatives is fairly low. According to HRB who conducted research with chief innovation officers, three quarters of corporate innovation initiatives fail to deliver the desired results.

But what are the advantages and what are the pitfalls to be avoided, as a corporation? Are there proven ways to decrease the problems and issues that may arise from these collaboration attempts?

Creating a long-term win-win situation is not easy for groups with such diverse DNAs. The rewards for those who manage it are: entering new markets, increasing the innovative character of a brand, optimizing assets, outsourcing development of innovative solutions and increasing competitiveness.

This 5 Afternoon Sprint sprint will focus on the core question : “How might we accelerate and increase competitiveness through collaboration with startups while learning from their agility and expertise?” The answers to this question will help every insurance organization how to successfully collaborate with InsurTech startups and accelerate innovation.

Some of the questions we are looking into are:

  • How can we identify and prioritize strategic objectives to be solved?
  • How can we identify the ‘right’ insurtech to partner with?
  • How can we define a partnership with startups?
  • How can we eliminate conflict of interests in a partnership wi startups?

Location:
Toronto, ON, Canada

Project Details

  • Each innovation project will begin by establishing a Lean Startup mindset, followed by the phases of Design Thinking as supported by a variety tools
  • The ultimate goal of this 1-week sprint is to analyze the problem, generate ideas and create solutions
  • The project team will consist of members from different (insurance) organizations

Duration

  • Sprint: 5 days
  • Dates:
    • (Part 1) Tue – May 26 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
    • (Part 2) Wed – May 27 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
    • (Part 3) Thu – May 28 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
    • (Part 4) Fri – May 29 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

      Apply by: May 23, 2020

Target Group

  • Business
  • Marketing & Sales
  • IT