Renewing the insurance industry through Design Thinking.

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up.

After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation. The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.

After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings. The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.

What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”

Does that sound at all familiar?

For years, insurance companies (and intermediaries alike), both in long and short term have struggled with long term customer retention and price has remained the fundamental industry differentiator. The industry has also struggled to increase the penetration of insurance products to levels experienced by its neighbours Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, with Angola being the exception.

Companies previously had no other option than to better engage with their customers. Despite this, our industry has seen little innovation with regards to the distribution of products or the improved engagement of customers.

We are increasingly aware of new and often disruptive business models outside of our own market that have changed the industries that they operate in e.g. Uber and AirBnB.

Such transformations are the result of innovative start-ups taking the market share of traditional companies in a worryingly speedy and effective manner. Something that is also not unlikely to happen with the insurance sector. While this could be interpreted as a threat, it’s also an opportunity to enhance your company’s DNA to become more innovative and flexible to promote positive change. Companies need to be capable of such adaptation in order to survive in this rapidly changing and technological era.

This requires an environment that allows people to (re)design, prototype and test new services or products before having to decide if this can be translated into a workable service or product proposition.

The continuous drive for innovation and renewing services or products should be an essential part of your company’s DNA, and can be seen as the first vital element in order to prosper within the insurance industry.

An eagerness to focus on innovation alone is not enough; decision-makers throughout the business are also in need of inspiration. Only when you feel inspired by others are you able to critically benchmark your own standards and behaviour as well as raise the bar to provide a new level of customer service.

Design Thinking training can play a significant role in assisting your company to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer).

It aids in breaking down silos which often occur in large organisations by involving various stakeholders from different departments in the design process. Product development is no longer just left to the Actuaries, Underwriters or a select few; it incorporates the views of a wide range of stakeholders from administration to marketing and distribution.

At iAB we have partnered with the Design Thinkers Academy to bring Design Thinking to your company. With the best internationally trained facilitators, our workshops are designed to train participants on the proceses and principals of Design Thinking and to stimulate innovation in your organisation.

Speak to us today about our various Design Thinking workshops

The Insurance Academy of Botswana
Plot 145, Office 20F
Gaborone International Finance Park
Tel: +267 313 3706

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