Recap: Meet the Cookhouse Labs Robot

1 challenge.

4 students.

200+ hours.

1 robotic solution.

Last week, we were excited to conclude our 5-month student project with a big reveal in front of a global audience of 50+ insurers. This marks the end of yet another successful collaboration with The University of Applied Sciences in Würzburg-Schweinfurt, Germany (FHWS), during which our student teams developed innovative solutions to our members’ (and our own) internal challenges. In case you missed our big global presentation on Friday, we’ve broken down our internal project into bite-sized pieces to help you catch up — check out the summary below:

The Challenge

Since lockdown began in March last year, we have been finding ways to make our in-person sessions more interactive and engaging despite the virtual gap. Today, virtual collaborations have become the New Normal, and we expect that after we have successfully overcome this pandemic, hybrid models (combining the virtual and in-person experiences) will be the future. We tasked a team of E-commerce and IT students to define solutions to keep innovators connected, despite being in different rooms, either at home or in the office.

The Process

Beginning October 2020, our students followed the Design Thinking methodology, guided by our certified innovation experts, to find ways to tackle our hybrid challenge. Typically, the FHWS student project is held in-person in our downtown Toronto lab space, but given the current situation, we conducted our sessions virtually for the first time. Our students interviewed our team members, partners, and customers to understand pain points and opportunities in the current virtual model. Through this process, our students identified one of the main challenges was difficulty in building trust and engaging communication with remote participants. Good ideas, they learned, often arise during coffee break discussions, and it is difficult to replicate this experience in a virtual model.

Our students asked, “How might we build trust and improve communication among participants on-site, remote participants, and the moderator during the whole project in a hybrid digital workshop?”

Together, the students ideated many potential solutions and narrowed it down to their top 2 choices, which they further developed into MVPs to present at the end of the project.

The Solutions

Having prepared prototypes of their solutions, our students proudly presented their ideas to our community on Friday. The solutions were:

1. Double Robots

By employing the use of self-driving video conferencing robots, the students allowed participants to feel more present in the Lab. These robots could be controlled via one’s keyboard arrow keys from anywhere in the world over a Wi-Fi network, and gave participants an opportunity to explore the physical space from the comfort of home. With video display on the attached iPads, this solution also overcame the barrier of joining coffee breaks, inviting discussion and ideation despite the physical distance.

2. The Cookhouse Socializing Box

This solution promised an unforgettable social experience, complete with ingredients to make a customized cocktail and a light pasta meal. The Box included the tools needed, such as a branded glass, apron, and even a wooden spoon! To complete the experience, participants would be brought into a virtual culinary class hosted by a Cookhouse Labs moderator, where they would create these dishes together while still being in their own kitchens. This worked to create a sense of community and would act as an icebreaker before the main workshop date.

At the end of the presentation, our audience had the opportunity to ask their own questions about the solutions. Undoubtedly, the Cookhouse Labs robot was a crowd pleaser and opened the floor for a discussion about the new hybrid experience we will soon launch.

While plans for our hybrid experience are currently underway, we wanted to invite you to participate in our next student project to be held in October 2021. If you have a challenge you would like our students to tackle, click here to learn more about our memberships and how you can get started with your very own student project!

How to Disrupt Insurance in 24 Hours

Only 3 days left to SummerHack 2020!

If you’re joining us as a Hacker or Mentor this summer, you’re probably wondering how you’ll create a disruptive IoT-powered solution in just 24 hours. To help you prepare for our upcoming virtual hackathon, we’ve put together this quick guide on how to disrupt the insurance industry using Design Thinking in time for Friday’s deadline!

What is Design Thinking?

Previously in the insurance space, most insurers took the approach of creating solutions based solely on assumptions and hoped that their products or solutions would resonate with target audiences. Design Thinking reverses this logic by first identifying the root(s) of the problem, observing how people think and behave, and gathering customer insights. From there, they create practical solutions. Using this methodology invites teams to look at a problem through the eyes of the customer, put themselves in their shoes and fully empathize with the customer – who is ultimately the people impacted directly by the solution.

Stages of Design Thinking

The following are the stages of the Design Thinking process:

  • Empathize with the customer and other stakeholders
  • Define the opportunity or problem
  • Design a solution
  • Create and build a Minimum Viable Product/Concept/Service
  • Test the solution with customers and users

How to Use Design Thinking at SummerHack 2020

While the stages listed above may sound time-consuming, it’s possible to walk through each of them within a short timeframe. As a reminder, our Innovation Team will be available via regular check-in calls to answer any questions and provide support on how to follow Design Thinking to develop impactful solutions.

Below, we’ve broken down the 24-hour hackathon period using the Design Thinking process to help you structure your time (should you choose to do so) and succeed in SummerHack 2020!

Thursday, July 30th

9 AM – Empathize

At 9 am EDT, the Cookhouse Labs team will announce our IoT-based challenge and you will have 24 hours to create your solution!

Your Design Thinking journey begins with the first stage, Empathize. This is where you will begin to understand your target group, which can be done in 2 ways: internet research and interviews with your target group. You can’t create a customer-centric solution without putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, and a good way to do this is to speak directly with the potential customer and listen.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • An Empathy Map to help you visualize how the user thinks/feels and documents their pain points
  • Your Persona, a character that represents the type of customer/user of your solution. For example, in our last project about mitigating small business bankruptcy, we created the persona of Fiona, a small business owner in Toronto

1st Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 11 am to 12 pm!

3 PM – Define

The next stage focuses on constructing a point of view based on the user’s needs. Here, you will take time to reflect on what the user has shared with you and to visualize their experience. By doing so, you can define what problem you are trying to solve, which will help you shape a better experience for the user.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A Journey Map, which is a narrative of your user’s steps to accomplish a specific goal. This is mapped out in 2 layers: a timeline of the user’s actions and their thoughts/emotions while completing each task. You want to identify areas where the user encounters obstacles or barriers along their journey
  • How Might We (HMW) statements, which are short questions that focus on specific problem areas from the Journey Map and identifies the benefits or gains the solution will bring. In the same project about bankruptcy mitigation, our team created 20 HMW statements and selected, “How might we reduce the risk of financial impact of current economic events?”

2nd Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 3 pm to 4 pm!

7 PM – Design

After selecting a single HMW statement to focus on, it’s time to ideate! This stage is all about connecting to your inner child and using your imagination to come up with multiple solutions to the problem your team identified. Quantity is important here, so remember to list as many possibilities as you can!

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • Multiple possible solutions to tackle the challenge in various timeframes
  • A chosen idea to begin prototyping!

3rd Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 7 pm to 8 pm!

11 PM – Create

Once your team has voted on a winning idea, you are now ready to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You will begin by creating a low-fidelity prototype, which could take the form of a sketch, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A sketch of your Lo-Fi prototype to help visualize and test the solution

4th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 11 pm to 12 am!

Friday, July 31st

3 AM – Test

Now that the solution has taken shape, it’s time to test and retest the idea with different users. The objective is to receive feedback on the content, design, and usability of the prototype and is usually done via surveys and interviews. It is important to remain open to feedback and fully engage with the potential end-user in order to understand their thoughts and improve your prototype. Note that if it is not possible to test with actual personas, you can either test within the team, with friends or connections you have in your network, your Mentor, or ask the Cookhouse Labs team if they have a chance to check out your solution.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A final MVP that is ready to be presented

5th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 3 am to 4 am!

7 AM – Wrap-Up

In 2 hours, you will submit your final solution!

At this time, you should begin to practice your presentation and prepare any materials required (such as PowerPoint slides). Remember, you will only have three minutes to pitch your solution to our panel of judges!

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • Submitted your solution on our platform, including a brief description and any additional materials
  • Prepared your presentation for our Live Pitch Event beginning at 9:30 am

6th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 6 am to 7 am!

To provide even further support, our Innovation Team has prepared a Design Thinking video series to walk you through each stage in more detail, which you will have access to before the event.

And remember – along the way, you will have support from your Mentor, an industry expert dedicated to providing your team with valuable knowledge and expertise.

And with that, you are now ready to disrupt the insurance industry!

We wish all our teams the best of luck for SummerHack 2020! We invite our community members to join the Live Pitch Event on Friday, July 31st at 9:30 am EDT to see the exciting solutions our teams of student and corporate innovations develop.

To receive an invite, please register here.

A Mid-Year Toast to Global Collaboration

Since our relaunch in December 2019, Cookhouse Labs has grown into a global center for insurance innovation. Through our co-creation sprints and diverse menu of events and trainings, we have brought together innovators from around the world to collaborate and #MakeInsuranceBetter.

At the Lab, we end every project with a collective celebration. Whether we’re in our physical space or connected virtually, our innovators and internal team members raise their favorite drinks for a toast to yet another successful collaboration.

We recently crossed the mid-year mark — this milestone inspired us to reflect on the past 6 months and celebrate the achievements on our journey since December. Every project is successful because of our valuable community of innovators, and we would like to invite you grab your favorite drink and join us in this virtual celebration!

Here’s a look at our year so far:

1. Our virtual event calendar was launched in just 2 days

In March, we swiftly moved our Lean Startup Training online just 2 days before the event. The initial virtual setup consisted of large parts, such as green screens and light stands, that spread across the Lab space. As we continued to host our online events, we began to include exciting tools — such as our well-known digital whiteboard — where our innovators posted thousands of virtual sticky notes full of insights and ideas, much like our in-person experience.

2. 150+ innovators joined our community this year

Global innovators of all ages joined our virtual events! They collaborated on week-long sprints, participated in our innovation trainings, and shared their lunch hour with us via our webinars. Our innovators brought new ideas and diverse perspectives to our projects, stemming from rich backgrounds in HR, IT, innovation, senior management, and student life!

3 . We ran 6 major co-creation projects

Our sprints covered themes around attracting young talent, collaborating with InsurTech startups, and challenges of insurance. Our community support sprint, which we first ran in April, is currently in Phase II, where the solution is being further developed and executed (reach out to us if you want to get involved in making a difference in the community). We also hosted a 24-hour student project around small business bankruptcy prevention. We completed nearly every one of these projects virtually, and doing so allowed us to collaborate with innovators worldwide!

4. 155+ ideas were generated in our projects

We challenged innovators to ideate potential solutions to the current issues faced in the insurance industry, and we were blown away by the incredible ideas shared! Our teams came up with solutions that could be implemented as early as the next week, as well as more complex

solutions that would be rolled out over several months. One of these ideas was a virtual summit to provide community support in these challenging times, and our innovators are currently working on executing this idea in Phase II of the sprint (learn more about how you can get involved)!

5. We hosted 9 innovation trainings

Our Head Innovation Coach walked participants through several exciting innovation methodologies, including Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Google Sprint. To help our community facilitate their own innovation projects, we hosted a Train the Trainer session, where participants learned valuable coaching tools and skills. Our Senior UX/UI Designer led our Design Tools Training, and by the end of the day, attendees walked away with their own Lo-Fi prototypes of mobile applications.

While this year has certainly been busy, it is far from over! Our Events Team is currently hard at work building our upcoming virtual summit to support small business owners as they recover from current business interruptions.

Preparation for our 24-hour Global SummerHack 2020 is also in full swing! This year’s theme is “IoT Disruption in Insurance”, and we’re very excited to see what our teams will build in this race against the clock!

As we raise a toast in celebration of our milestone, we want to thank YOU, the community, for your continued interest, engagement, and commitment to bring the industry together. Your enthusiasm inspires and motivates us every day, and we are grateful for your support in our journey to #MakeInsuranceBetter!

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!!

Community, Collaboration, Co-Creation

A few weeks back we ran a sprint focusing on Innovating to Save Community Businesses During COVID -19. Clearly, the word Community is in the title, as a reminder of what we stand for at Cookhouse Labs: Building a community, connecting with a community, taking care of our community. In essence, Cookhouse Labs takes us back to what insurance is all about – community.  

During our sprint, we interviewed small business owners, and what we heard from them was how stressful, scary, and frustrating this current situation is for them, which is no surprise; we expected similar words. Even though entrepreneurs are used to uncertainty and sometimes thrive and use uncertainty as a motivator, the current level of this uncertainty is even higher and scarier than usual as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, which has resulted in a tremendous impact on their immediate families, their teams, and the families of every employee involved.  

Empathy is our compass during our process and our journey, as it is the key ingredient for our methodology. Listening to our personas, we identified the current level of fear, stress, and worry. It is one thing to KNOW that there is such an impact; is another thing to SEE and FEEL the impact as the team heard the words and saw the expressions on the faces of the owners we interviewed.  

So, what lessons did we takeaway?  

The current situation is creating an environment of: 

  • Confusion – People are not sure what to do next, since no one knows how long the lockdown will be in effect; 
  • Frustration – Everyone is feeling stuck because, again, not knowing when the business will be running again, there nothing or little an owner can do or plan; 
  • Loneliness – Many people are feeling alone and isolated, as if they are only ones feeling stuck or confused; 
  • Fear – Owners worry about what will happen to their businesses. For all of them, this is their passion, and for some of them, their longtime dream 

The biggest takeaway was seeing their reactions as the team interviewed them. For many business owners, it appeared as if it was the first time someone took time to really listen to how they felt and how this is impacting their life. Even more important, it was the first time someone asked them, “What do you need? How can we support you?”  

The sprint team did an amazing job at connecting to their human side and empathizing with each person they interviewed, truly feeling their real emotions.  

As the result, the team defined a solution: Providing a virtual space that can be available for these small business owners quickly, while they need it, at no cost to them. It’s a solution that provides them with the feeling that they are not alone and that someone does have their back. Who? The insurance industry, specifically the insurance members that participated in the sprint.  

So, stay tuned and keep coming back to learn more about this virtual space: What it is, how it will be created and how YOU can be part of it, if you wish. Meanwhile, this sprint is moving on to a Phase II. At Cookhouse Labs, Phase II means, we are moving forward from ideation and testing to bringing the idea to life.  Click here to find out how you can join Phase II!

We would love to say thank you to those business owners that were happy to share their time and stories during the sprint. And we invite you, our community members, to learn more about those businesses whose owners were comfortable with sharing details about their companies. Links are listed below, so pay them a visit!  

Thank you to our business owners – check out their pages and share if you feel inspired to do so! #CommunitySupport 

Jessica Ash 
Pristine Services 
Whatsapp: 289-380-6900

Raquel Furbert 
Blueprint Hair Studio  
FB: Blueprint Hair Studio
Instagram: @bphairstudio 

#MakeInsuranceBetter with InsurTech Startups

How can insurance organizations successfully collaborate with InsurTech Startups to accelerate innovation?

While an increasing number of organizations are investing in these collaborations, the success of these initiatives is fairly low. We know that there are many insights large organizations can gain from InsurTech startups, and our most recent Sprint aimed to create a long-term win-win solution for both groups.

Over the first two days of the project, the team focused on empathizing with both sides. The team interviewed a corporate Mastermind and 3 InsurTech Startups, and each innovator brought their own experience of working with Startups to the project. Through these interviews, the team discovered many pain points for Startups, as shown below.

During the interview analysis, the team realized that all of the Startups frequently spoke about one pain point – the issue of time wastage. As one Founder shared, “It can often take 1 month between the first email request for a meeting and the actual in-person meeting”. Some of the reasons cited for this issue were

1) Not being connected to the right person

2) Delayed responses

3) Bureaucracy, which required booking a meeting room instead of a phone call to communicate

On the third day, the team used the Design Thinking methodology to establish an empathy map, which helped them visualize the thoughts and feelings of these Startups. Equipped with this deeper understanding, they defined a persona – Betty, a recent graduate and InsurTech Startup Founder. The team mapped out Betty’s journey, where she attempted to connect and collaborate with large insurance organizations. Next, they created a “How Might We” statement: “How might we identify the right decision makers to speed up the process of collaboration, improving Betty’s experience?”

Within 5 minutes, the innovators produced 26 ideas for solutions to this challenge. Together, they decided on the winning solution – a dedicated committee of decision makers. This solution was further developed on the fourth day and presented to the community via an interactive presentation. The team invited the audience to share their insights through a poll after the presentation, which opened the floor for a discussion around the future of collaboration between InsurTech Startups and large insurance organizations.

A big thank-you to the participants, Masterminds, and community members for sharing their time with us during this exciting project!

As we continue our Virtual Events calendar into June, we would like to invite you to check out our upcoming trainings and events. These events are free for members of the re/insurance community, as part of our gift during these challenging times.

We look forward to seeing the community at our upcoming events as we continue to collaborate to #MakeInsuranceBetter!

The Recipe to Attract and Retain Young Talent

  • 4 organizations.
  • 17.5 hours of collaboration.
  • 55 perspectives surveyed.
  • 1 shared challenge.

Last week, we combined these ingredients to cook up a solution to attract and retain young talent. This was a challenge that many Senior Managers shared with us and are currently facing. As one Manager put it, “We are not doing enough to bring young talent into the industry.”

Our team set off to learn more using the Design Thinking methodology. This allowed the insurers to see the problem through the unique perspectives of the students and Managers it involved. To facilitate this, we surveyed over 55 Senior Managers and students from Canada and Germany to voice their opinions in a brief questionnaire.

“We expect that a certain percentage of young hires will turnover within a year or two,” another manager told us.

“I think Insurance is a lot of paperwork, accounting, and a lot of repeated work,” a young respondent wrote.

Clearly there were several obstacles at play — but where would our team of innovators begin?

The team decided to indulge the young talent perspective first. They explored the thoughts and emotions of young people when it came to job search methods, desired benefits, and office culture expectations. The highlights were then compared to responses from Senior Managers.

Along the way, our team uncovered a major gap. They mapped out benefits that students desired, then matched these answers to the benefits that Managers thought students wanted on their job offers. To everyone’s surprise, there was very little overlap, as shown below.

Armed with these surprising insights, our team ideated 55 ways to #BridgeTheGap in 5 minutes. Together, they voted on a single idea to develop and test during their time in our virtual Sprint. Our Senior UX/UI Designer, Adys Franco, worked with the team to whip up a prototype of their solution, which the team then tested. They first tested with two focus groups of university students, and the second was done with current HR experts with insurance backgrounds.

The solution is based on a program designed to attract and retain young talent by engaging the young hires from day one and inviting them to work with other departments in the organization. “New graduates will find the work environment less intimidating with the additional guidance and will now have the support they need,” a leader said during the testing session. “This will be very helpful to them!”

The team seasoned their solution using the feedback collected, and soon, it was time to virtually present their masterpiece in front of the Cookhouse Labs community. The response was warm and positive, and the presentation even invited a discussion around the gap in perceptions.

“We’re moving the curve in the right direction,” said a member of our audience. “If people begin to understand the business, they might begin to understand the possibilities within the industry for them.” A job well done and time well spent!

As we wrapped up the presentation, we asked our participants to reflect on their experience in our test kitchen.

“I liked the Sprint experience so much that I came back a second time,” a returning participant shared with the audience at the end. “I appreciate being able to explore the problem and I hope this issue is tackled down the road, because it is a real problem for the industry.”

“It’s amazing to think about where we began and how much we accomplished in such little time!” another participant said.

We’d like to thank the participants, survey respondents, and audience members for the time and insights they shared with us during the project. Our recipe proved to be a fan-favorite, and we’re excited to see what our next team cooks up!

Want to join the next batch of innovators? Sign up for our next virtual Sprint.

#BridgeTheGap to Attract and Retain Young Talent

All over the world, members of the insurance community are asking the question, “How might we attract and retain young talent?”

We recruited a team of innovators to join our virtual co-creation Sprint and develop a solution to this shared challenge. While our team’s solution will be ready to present on Friday (which you’re invited to attend), we’ve compiled a few nuggets of insights we want to share with you to help you ideate your own way to #BridgeTheGap.

We surveyed a number of university students from Canada and Germany to better understand their approach to job searching. Below, we compare the top responses to insights from Senior Managers within our community.

Before we begin, here’s what we learned

We asked our student respondents to share 3 words they associated with the word ‘insurance’. The words we frequently received were ‘Health’, ‘Security’, ‘Necessity’, and ‘Safety’. As we learned, young professionals do not necessarily have negative perceptions of the insurance industry, based on the positive words our respondents submitted. They see insurance more from a perspective of what it offers!

The average acceptable length to stay within a job/company is 2 years, as we learned from our respondents. This was confirmed by Senior Managers, who shared with us that they generally expect new hires to turnover within 1 or 2 years.

In our final question, we asked respondents what an insurance organization must have for them to accept a job offer from it. Some of the responses we received were opportunities to grow, interesting work, good reputation, salary and benefits, and a supportive culture. Young professionals seek company cultures that are respectful, inclusive, and friendly. We encourage you to look into your office culture and ensure that you are providing a positive space for growth and collaboration.

So, what are some ways you can attract and retain young talent?

Venture into the Career Portal

Where Students Search: LinkedIn, Indeed, and university/college Career Portal websites

The Gap: Most Managers currently post jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed, and their company websites. There is an opportunity to collaborate with universities and colleges to post job opportunities on career portal websites, thereby reaching more students.

Connect with Candidates

What Students Care About: Great coworkers, security, and money

The Gap: Managers currently offer flexibility, security, and advancement opportunities. Introduce potential recruits to the great people in your organization and encourage a connection between

them. This will show recruits the human side of your company and will help you stand out from other job offers.

Offer the Right Benefits

What Students Want: Health insurance, mentorship, and an opportunity to apply and develop new skills

The Gap: Connect new hires to older employees during the onboarding process. These mentors should learn about the hires’ goals and work with the young talent to achieve these goals over the next few years. A great opportunity to embed one of the key characteristics on creativity and innovation – Empathy!

Young employees offer a fresh perspective to the insurance organizations they join, along with technical and analytical skills. These young recruits are the leaders of tomorrow and play a key role in the company’s succession planning.

By making these minor changes to your recruitment strategy, not only will you be able to attract young candidates, but you will also retain your new hires for a longer period of time.

And in the process, you will be able to #BridgeTheGap and #MakeInsuranceBetter!

Community Spirit in the Time of COVID-19

Community Spirit

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.