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Thought leadership, insights, and success stories

How to Drive Positive Disruption in the Life Insurance Industry


Innovation and disruption in the life insurance industry create new value for customers, carriers, insurtechs, reinsurers, and society as a whole. By using RGAX’s Life Design Sprints methodology, carriers can accelerate innovation and drive positive industry disruption with our recipe for success: transforming industry challenges into market-tested solutions. With the right tools and strong team engagement, together we can improve life insurance processes, design new products, and aim for moonshots while managing risk simultaneously.

Our series on Life Design Sprints started humbly - with Brussels sprouts of all things (see why). We explored how to recognize then solve the right problems, get the right people in the room, introduce a new way of thinking, and overcome common obstacles. Ultimately demonstrating that wherever there is an opportunity for improvement and a team motivated enough to find a viable solution, Life Design Sprints offer tactical acceleration through focused collaboration.

To end our series on a high note, we’re exploring the two foundational ingredients making Life Design Sprints a success for driving positive disruption in the life insurance industry. 

Two experts explore the powerful combination of design thinking and co-creation

The essential ingredients of Life Design Sprints are design thinking and co-creation. When we combine the two, we can more easily solve internal problems in your organization by rapidly identifying winning solutions.  But we suggest not stopping there. What about co-creating with competitors, with regulators, and with the community - working together side-by-side to transform the life insurance industry.

We’re thrilled to share insights on these topics from two experts on design thinking and co-creation: Dr. Angèle Beausoleil, Assistant Professor of Business Design and Innovation at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and Mitch Ocampo, Managing Director within the Americas team at RGAX.

They’ll discuss how design thinking is emerging as a popular way to source novel, plausible, and feasible solutions from cross-functional teams. Dr. Beausoleil shares thoughts and insights around design thinking while Mitch discusses the importance of insurance companies understanding and adopting the practice.

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Dr. Beausoleil, in your own words, how do you define design thinking?

[Dr. Angèle Beausoleil] The simple answer is that design thinking is an accessible, inclusive way to learn design tools and methods to solve small to big problems creatively. It guides your decision-making process of first understanding the user of your product or service, and then generating the many ideas and prototypes that might resolve that need. Indeed, well-practiced design thinking helps people find, frame, and solve human-centered business problems.

It’s a way of helping humans navigate uncertainty. You need these tools and this mindset to permit yourself to engage positively with uncertainty .

Why is design thinking so useful for business innovation?

[AB] Design thinking emphasizes identifying the problem to be solved before diving in. Most organizations focus on solving problems, but you need to stop and reflect if you are solving the right problem. Ask yourself if you have a user or customer insight that truly defines the problem? Are you sure it’s the right problem? Have you framed it correctly?

Design thinking offers a low-cost means of investigating and articulating a problem. As the late automaker Charles Kettering wisely remarked, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” Design thinking is a communication process between company and customers as well as between and across functional teams.

How can organizations benefit from design thinking?

[AB] It’s the difference between a store-bought pie and a homemade one. The former has fixed ingredients while the latter allows you to combine a set of unique and rich ingredients. The latter takes more time and is more complicated, but the results are worth it.

Companies can invest in themselves, engage their customers, and test their solutions with design thinking. If insurance companies embed what they learn during RGAX design sprints, they will help change the sector and move it forward.


Mitch, why does the insurance industry need design thinking?

[Mitch Ocampo] Today’s consumer is changing. They’re no longer interested in a long sales cycle or in long times to recover their investments. Consumers want subscription pricing and a platform solution that delivers 80-90% of the functionality in an afternoon - not over a multi-year period.

Design thinking allows you to access your team’s creative side to keep up with changing consumer expectations. You can come up with an idea, launch it into a revenue-generating business model, quickly trial it with consumers, see if the idea is plausible by rapidly recognizing the positive impacts, and continue – or fail fast and move on.

You recently shared on social media that “business is human, and culture is key.” How does design thinking work into this?

[MO] Design thinking is customer-centered as guided by human-centered design principles. Design thinking helps a business understand its customers’ human nature. It also allows employees to get outside of the echo chamber of an organizational culture reverberating the same ideas. We host groups that bring together employees in an organization who hail from multiple disciplines or from multiple siloed organizations to co-create together. In a Life Design Sprint, the echo chambers don’t exist, so you have to ground yourself  in a different way. Ideally, this setup will challenge conventional thinking. 

Does co-creation and collaboration extend to competitors?

[MO] Yes, we can apply design thinking to bigger problems beyond one company. By involving a team of people from different organizations to solve insurance problems, we can create an engaged community that can solve industry-wide problems. We can solve legacy issues, streamline processes, improve customer service, address societal issues, and find use cases for emerging technologies.

Design thinking constructs a methodology for people in and across companies and even for an entire industry to co-create practical solutions.

And with regulators? How can the public sector and private sector co-create with regulators?

[MO] Bermuda is a great example of reinsurers, carriers, brokers, agents, and regulators  working collaboratively. In one of the most respected regulatory environments in the world, the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) is creating a sandbox for insurance innovation and a digital-first approach to insurance. People from all facets of the industry are working and learning together so that they can achieve more than they could have alone.  The worldwide insurance industry is watching to see what we can all learn from Bermuda’s collaborative effort.

And beyond business? How does social impact intersect with this approach to innovation?

[MO] Businesses can have a positive impact on their communities, and Life Design Sprints can take design thinking and collaboration into the community. For example, we facilitated a 3-day sprint in London focused on finding ways that insurers could contribute potential solutions for suicide prevention in the UK. We were eager to contribute to studying how suicide affects society, the life insurance industry, and healthcare. We’ve also worked with a whole-community response to extreme weather that brought together community groups, grassroots leaders, government, small business, plus the financial and legal sectors in Canada.

Why should insurance companies embrace co-creation and collaboration with RGAX Life Design Sprints?

[MO] It’s becoming increasingly challenging to find ground-breaking 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 where we can harness the insight and energy of diverse contributors.

Rather than subcontracting innovation to consulting companies, our clients use Life Design Sprints to accelerate innovation from within. We use design thinking methodology to connect you with the right people, exercises, mindset, and resources to tackle wicked problems. You can experience design thinking anywhere in the world. You can apply and test the ROI along with the business impact of emerging technologies, and you can then move from concept validation to scale-up.

Additionally, you can access our in-house experts across data science, customer acquisition, customer retention, artificial intelligence, distributed ledger, and other emerging tech to develop solutions further and take them to market.

Any last thoughts for our readers?

[MO] The insurance industry is great at collaboration. I came from finance and healthcare, and I’ve never seen a more collaborative group of professionals than in insurance.  The relationships between reinsurers and carriers are strong. We rely on each other for risk sharing, so it’s a natural extension for us to work together to share the risk of innovation, too.

As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Using design thinking and industry collaboration, we can create positive disruption from within our industry. Design thinking can be powerful in a single organization, but it can be even more powerful in an entire industry.

Co-create and collaborate with RGAX

Whether you want to co-create within your organization, with partners, across the industry, or for social impact, RGAX is here to help you. Learn how Life Design Sprints make it easier for you to deliver insurance innovation.

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Catch up on the full series here:



Written by: Megan Mangialardi

As Marketing Manager, Megan supports RGAX’s content and communications team and initiatives, ensuring that brand messaging and communications are aligned. Highlighting the RGAX story and expressing it in a compelling way that supports and amplifies the brand is a central focus.

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