How to be successful at change in insurance - Top Tips from the InsTech Event on 12th October Sponsored by Cognizant

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Robin Merttens

Here are the collective thoughts of the InsTech community from an InsTech event on 12th October sponsored by Cognizant divided into themes – Approach, Culture, Sponsorship and Leadership. I could provide some overarching commentary but ringing in my ears is a tip on the night from Justin Emrich, CIO of Atrium - "Know your own strengths and weaknesses and where the real expertise resides". In this case, with our speakers and the audience. I will let them speak for themselves. Enjoy.  


Too often we as external change consultants helping the insurance industry are engaged to build a solution. We get better outcomes when we're approached with a problem and work together with our clients to get to the bottom of the problem and define a solution. Then we can work in partnership to implement the solution and realise the value from it.
- Matt Jarman, Client Partner, Cognizant

Change is a risky endeavour and making changes in an industry, which is by its nature risk averse, presents a challenge to insurance organisation decision-makers. It used to be that only three in ten software projects were successful. So, I’d encourage companies to break down what they usually treat as one big single solution into ten individual projects. By breaking the problem down into its component parts, you increase the chance of at least partial success and stop throwing good money after bad when it becomes clear a part is one of the seven likely to fail.  
- Colville Wood, CTO, Cognizant Insurance, UK&I 

Change can only come when there is a culture of collaboration between experts. In the industry today, functions are all siloed and with siloed functions, you get huge inefficiencies. It’s only by bringing all the experts – brokers, underwriters, architects and engineers – together to solve a problem that you can deliver true change. 
- Bijal Patel, Co-founder and CTO, Aurora 

Treat payment as a strategic part of any change you make. In insurance, any product that you launch and any process that you change is likely to have implications around collecting, moving, and paying money. The tendency for the industry to work in silos means there’s a separate area for payments and money. Make sure payments experts are involved in change because bolting on a payment solution after your project is finished is really complicated.
- Calogero Scibetta, UK Enterprise Sales – Insurance and Insurtech, Stripe

If you're going to go for change because you’re focused on saving money, then that's bad. If you’re spending money so that you can do something better at the same cost, then that's good. 
- Lance Grant, Head of Operations, ICSR 

Early remediation is easier remediation. Sometimes you need to tackle a risk early to eliminate and diminish a bigger risk in the long term.  
- Ksenia G, Business Data Architect, distriBind 

There’s an awful lot of people who assume that if they deliver a piece of software, the job is done, but that is only the starting point. You still have an awfully long way to go to engage the users, many of whom will not want to change. Bring them along on the journey and only then will you get your software implemented. 
- Justin Emrich, CIO, Atrium  


I can only talk about my experience within the world of Formula One. But innovation by incremental gains is the DNA of sport, particularly so for F1. We see developments in the cargo from an idea in somebody's head into production in a fraction of the time that it happens in other industries. That kind of philosophy is embedded within the entire organisation. We want to be the best, we want to do things that are new and different, and we want to challenge the status quo. We can't consider a job done until all stones have been turned over and we have tried everything. That involves having the courage to go out there and try things in the search for performance gain or commercial advantage. 
- Paul Latham, Head of Audience Development, Aston Martin F1 Team  

It takes bravery to do something different. There’s too many people and organisations following the path that's already been trod. What is needed is more rethinking things from the ground up and being brave enough to do them. It’s too easy to follow what others have done, even if you know it’s not the right or the best way: anything so as not to have to put your neck on the line. Back yourself and bring people along on the journey.
- Dave Connors, Founder and CEO, distriBind 

I think empowerment is the one word to take away from tonight. Empower your team and have an empowerment culture. Expertise is rarely right at the top of an organisation, most of is at or close to the coalface. Work out where your expertise is and empower your team to use it to deliver. In my team, I'm the dumbest person in the team on some aspects of the business. Especially when it comes to IT! For change to work you’ve also got to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and don't try and do other people’s job for them.  
- Justin Emrich, CIO, Atrium  


Those that control the P&L need to spend more time on the shop floor. We don’t get the leadership we need because the leadership doesn’t understand what the problems are.  If they knew more about the issues that are being served up at the coalface day after day they could properly assess the excuses that they're being given when things go wrong. If they REALLY understood the pain points and their effect, they would sanction more change and sign more cheques.  
- Craig Polley, Co-founder and Partner, LimeStreet Digital Partners  

I think one thing we've learned is that, if building something new from within an existing business, make sure that the list of internal stakeholders is short. That's not to exclude people from the conversation, it just means that you can move fast, because people have got day jobs, even those who are happy to support you. If you put the business of change on to a lot of other people's plates, it's just not going to happen. Have a very small team of people who are committed to taking it forward and move fast. 
- Marek Schafer, Managing Director, VAVE

Finding and keeping the right sponsorship is vital. Pick someone as senior as possible who cares, make sure they have real ‘skin in the game,’ deep knowledge of what is to be delivered and are actively involved throughout the lifecycle of the project. If they are a passionate advocate of the required change they will intervene if there are disputes,  remove blockers, win round sceptics and ensure proper resourcing. In my experience, projects that have an authoritative, active, involved, and effective sponsor usually succeed and those that don’t fail.  
- Tim Kershaw, Founder and Chief Mentor, TrACK Mentoring & Consulting and Client and Product Executive, mea platform 

Make a list of the senior leadership team whose businesses are actually going to be transformed by your project and make sure they're in the room when you tell them what's going to happen to their businesses. Identify the ones who nod in agreement whilst privately thinking this is the biggest load of nonsense they've ever heard. Those are the people who will make or break your project. Stay close to them, manage them and isolate the detractors.  
- Des McCavitt, COO, Montague Risk Partners  

If you want change to work, especially market-wide change then step-up and try to influence that change. There are remarkably few people with that attitude. I've chaired or sat on more committees than most and too often the people on them are not empowered - they're just taking notes. If you are going to put people forward for a committee, allow them to contribute. I didn't have to get permission to sit here tonight. Nobody has read what I was going to say, because I'm trusted. And I think this is really key - trust your team to make a contribution. There are too many passengers and not enough drivers.  
- Justin Emrich, CIO, Atrium  


Talk to the customer whose problem your change programme is for. Listen to what they tell you, rather than apply what you think you want to hear from them. Then keep talking and listening about that problem and solution through the whole programme. That way you will keep things on track and not be influenced by what you thought you were going to hear in the first place. That way you can keep the problem and the solution aligned.
- Daren Rudd, Vice President Consulting - Head of Insurance Business and Technology Consulting, UK, CGI

Don't call it digital transformation. I think it really scares people. People can ‘clam up’ and think they’re turkeys voting for Christmas, and they can seek to block the change. So, my advice would be to nudge them along. If you use a bit more stealth, people are more likely to come to the right decision themselves, which they won’t do if you scare them right from the outset.
- Dan Prince, CEO, Rethink  

Can we normalise change and not call it change? There is change fatigue and some of the resistance comes from calling it change. Is it not just natural progression? Let’s call it progress.  
- Farirai Gora, Progress Consultant

And the final takeaway from that night – I’m thinking we got the title of the event wrong! It should have been how to be successful at progress. Who wouldn’t want to be good at that?