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Thought leadership, insights, and success stories

Transforming the Life Insurance Industry

As originally published on C-Speak: The Language of Executives

The insurance industry is changing. This change continues to build momentum as trends in demographics, technology, and consumer behavior converge. People are living longer, and they are engaging with the world in new, technology-driven ways. These trends are redefining the way insurance is bought and sold, and solutions to address this changing environment are disrupting traditional business models.

RGA has always made innovation a strategic priority. With the formation of RGAX–the "transformation engine" of RGA–we are now channeling talent, resources, and more than 40 years of insight and innovation experience into a new transformational vision. RGAX is partnering with carriers and entrepreneurs to fuse industry expertise with outside capabilities. Together we are exploring exciting new opportunities, expanding the footprint of the life insurance ecosystem, and accelerating the development of new solutions and services to inspire greater consumer engagement.

Since its founding in 2015, RGAX has collaborated with insurers and other strategic partners to launch a number of forward-thinking businesses. We have a passion for entrepreneurial change and have implemented a proven innovation process adapted from lean startup methodology. This methodology provides direction and guidelines for our teams, and helps focus our efforts so that everyone knows what is in our pipeline and is headed in the same direction.

The lean startup model is based on the customer development methodology created by Steve Blank in the mid-1990s and illustrated in his book, The Four Steps to Epiphany. Blank's approach became a cornerstone of a new entrepreneurial movement popularized by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup. Lean startup methodology is made up of four phases–idea/concept, concept validation, prototype and scale-up–to accelerate a product's time to market.

Before pursuing a concept or idea at RGAX, we first make sure it aligns with our fundamental mission of helping people live longer, healthier, more financially secure lives. We then assess compatibility within our four lines of business–data/analytics, digital distribution, customer engagement, and insurance services.

Ideas are only a starting point; execution is everything, and RGAX is driven by results. We have success measures in place from concept to scale-up or what we call "from lightbulb to launch". Our methodology and success measures help us accelerate an initiative or fail it fast if it is not progressing. Ideally, we would love to see an initiative develop from inception through prototype and scale up; however, we still see failure as success. If we fail fast and get to a no-go decision quickly, we are able to learn and pivot. This allows us to redistribute funds and double down our investment in other areas that are accelerating. The uniqueness of our approach is that we have built a comprehensive ecosystem around the process, consisting of key roles, cadence/governance, tools/templates, and reporting, to ensure accelerated decision points at every step.

We have learned much along the way through our approach. We now understand firsthand that the pace for growing new businesses is slow, demands patience and requires an appetite for a certain amount of risk knowing that some ideas may notscale. Another lesson learned: It is essential to have the right roles and skills in place and to align them with the work being performed. In insurance, product commercialization experience is critical, as is subject matter expertise. A disciplined process keeps the entire team focused on what is relevant. Lastly, a key takeaway from the RGAX experience is this: Do not be afraid of failure. Failing fast can present some of the best opportunities for learning.

At RGAX, we provide a unique opportunity for our clients and partners to try, learn together, and ultimately to succeed in bringing about true industry change.

Click below to listen in on the 2-part podcast series that shares more about RGAX and our approach:

Written by: Sandi Hubert

Sandi Hubert is Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of RGAX and leads the RGAX Innovation Center of Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. In her role, Sandi oversees the RGAX Global Accelerator and the Ventures & Partnerships teams. She has been instrumental in developing the Innovation Process Methodology, used to advance innovation efforts in the center by leveraging stage-gate funding disciplines.

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