Over the last couple of decades, life insurance carriers have seen their market opportunities and challenges shift dramatically. Innovation is no longer a strategy to get ahead of the market. It’s a survival mandate. Yet innovation involves risk, and taking any new product or service to market can lay both reputations and financial stability on the line.
A Structured Innovation Process
To help carriers accelerate innovation while mitigating some of the risks, RGAX developed a disciplined methodology called Life Design Sprints. These short, focused sessions bring together a diverse group of collaborators to address some of the life insurance industry’s toughest challenges.
In Part Two of our e-book series, How to Accelerate Innovation in Life Insurance, we break down the Life Design Sprint into five distinct phases:
#1 Problem Frame
In this essential first step, the group defines the problem they are trying to solve. Beyond the basic definition, they establish that it is a problem, that is solvable, and that it is worth solving. While that may seem basic, failure to frame a problem correctly or thoroughly can sabotage an innovation project even before it gets off the ground.
Tip: Seeking individual contributions outside of a group setting can hinder team commitment and buy-in and often create misunderstandings in later phases. For the best results, utilize a workshop approach to problem framing with everyone in the same room or in a shared virtual space.
The next step is to understand the problem you’re trying to solve. You may want to bring in perspectives from outside the core group, such as customers or employees who experience the problem firsthand. You can also include people on the other end of the spectrum, for example, by conducting mastermind interviews with consultants who no longer do the job but advise those who do. The idea is to get a look at the problem from as many angles as possible. Often, RGAX sprint facilitators will tap into different areas of expertise within RGA to allow participants access to deep reinsurance knowledge that can help identify the problem:
It’s becoming increasingly challenging to find groundbreaking innovation within the four walls of a single company. Co-creation, however, is a great source of new information; it’s simply a matter of tapping into it and providing a platform through which we can harness the insight and energy of diverse contributors.
Mitch Ocampo, Vice President, RGAX Americas Innovation
#3 Ideate and Decide
This is where the fun begins. With a well-defined problem and a thorough understanding of its impact on the audience, the team develops possible solutions. It’s vital to remember that the “ideate and decide” portion of a Life Design Sprint differs from a typical brainstorming session. In brainstorming, the idea is to come up with as many ideas as possible in a short amount of time. In a Life Design Sprint, you do not just come up with ideas. A “decider” also chooses which ones are worth pursuing. Instead of handing them off to an execution team, the Life Design Sprint team prototypes and tests the ideas. Doing this fosters innovation while keeping participants accountable for developing workable innovations.
The Decider: In a Life Design Sprint, the “decider” is the one who has ultimate accountability for choosing which ideas to pursue. Often, this individual is the project sponsor or the owner. Either way, the “decider” should be a member of the Life Design Sprint team so that you avoid coming out of a session with an idea that executive management later vetoes.
#4 Prototype and Test
After choosing an idea, it’s time to build a prototype and test it, ideally in a real-world scenario. RGAX has helped clients build hundreds of simulated prototypes and test scenarios for rapid prototyping. For example, when a global life insurer wanted to enter a new market, the prototyping component of the Life Design Sprint helped them resolve uncertainties and achieve internal alignment on their plan to go forward. Read the full story here.
Tip: For fast, efficient prototyping, start with the minimum viable product. This solution adds value but isn’t so complex that it’s too difficult to build, implement, or understand.
#5 Long-Term Success
Believe it or not, you can complete steps one through four in a matter of days. Our typical Life Design Sprint takes five days, although we can adapt the length to the challenge you’re looking to tackle. While a follow-through is not technically part of the Life Design Sprint itself, no session is complete without it. The go-live phase is the ultimate stress test for innovation. At this stage, the team develops the idea based on market response and can then scale it up according to the go-to-market plan.
To learn more about Life Design Sprints and tips for accelerating innovation in the life insurance industry, download the e-book How to Accelerate Innovation in Life Insurance.
The Value of an Innovation Guide
While good ideas are everywhere, few life insurance industry professionals are experienced innovators. Organizational politics can also prevent good ideas from getting off the ground. RGAX’s experienced Life Design Sprint facilitators can help you bring the right people to the project, work through group dynamics to ensure the best ideas rise to the surface, build rapid prototypes, provide access to deep reinsurance knowledge, and create an execution plan that covers all your bases.
Ready to find an answer to some of your most pressing challenges? Reach out to us to learn more about how RGAX Life Design Sprints can help.