October 23, 2015
Feeling Like a Keystone Cop
by Tony Boobier
The pace of change suddenly feels like it's picking up. I'm like a Keystone Cop desperately holding on to the back of the car. And I'm not alone.
I’m beginning to feel like a Keystone Cop. You know the one; he’s the guy hanging on the back of the police car for dear life as the car speeds around the corner in hot pursuit of something.
Let me explain: For most of my professional career I have worked in the insurance industry, and I’ve diligently tried to keep hold of my personal steering wheel, directing my career toward what I thought might be the right way forward. Along the way, I’ve tried to keep on top of industry developments, people changes and company news.
But all of a sudden it’s beginning to feel harder. I can confidently say that I don’t think it’s just me. It seems that there’s a lot happening at the moment, and it’s happening more quickly than ever before. I’ve just got my head around advanced analytics; now I need to think about cognitive analytics. When I’ve sorted that one out, I will need to figure out “block chain” — then “sidechain.” By then, well, something else is bound to have come along.
So I’m hanging on like the guy on the back of the Keystone police car. From time to time, I try to convince myself that all of this change is founded on the basic principles of insurance, but I sense that the “rules” of insurance are also being reinvented. Is that a good thing, in an industry that is relatively unchanged for at least three hundred years? Perhaps it’s essential?
The danger – if there is a “danger” – is that we run the risk of technologically driven change with disregard to the basic foundations of the industry. Insurance as we know it now, with all its flaws and frustrations, remains as a critical part of society and commerce because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Technology is the great enabler of change, but should it be allowed to displace or threaten the basic tenets of our business – indemnity, utmost good faith and the rest? If we remove these, don’t we have something completely different than insurance as we know it?
From a professional point of view, change brings additional challenges. We all work hard to keep ourselves updated and, as a result, to remain relevant. But isn’t the speed of change making this harder? Mark Twain once said, “The only people who like change are wet babies.” Some of us are perhaps a little more tolerant of doing things differently — it’s in our personal DNA. If as individuals we are prepared to promote change, then we need as individuals to take our own medicine, whatever the consequences.
Continuous professional development has become more essential than ever before. Our ability to promote change, evangelize and manage change remains dependent on our personal ability to cope, and are critical success factors in our ability to remain professionally relevant.
It may feel uncomfortable hanging on to the back of the proverbial Keystone Cops car — but isn’t it better than being left behind?