Which Companies Are Innovating Right?


To get a sense of which companies are innovating well, and which aren't, ITL conducted a major study with our friends at The Institutes, and ITL Chief Innovation Officer Guy Fraker lays out the findings in the second part of his three-part series on innovation. He reports that a growing number of insurers, especially the larger ones, have cleared the first hurdle: They see the need for innovation and have made it a priority. But he also spots problems, based on the survey, based on his extensive consulting work and based on the more than 1,000 hours of interviews that we conducted with executives.

The problems lie on the people side. Too few companies have appointed the sort of small, centralized team that needs to drive innovation. Vanishingly few seem to have figured out how to draw on the resources available to them across the breadth of their operations and may have put themselves in a vicious circle. Companies don't expect their people to be innovative and don't offer rewards for innovation, so people don't offer innovative ideas, which leads their bosses not to trust their ability, which....

As usual, Guy also busts some myths about innovation. Two struck me as especially important:

  • The key to innovation isn't, in fact, to think outside the box. It's to think inside the right box, based on your customers, your employers, your capabilities. In fact, constraints inspire innovation and help ensure that ideas will be the kind you can take to market at scale.
  • The key to innovation also isn't technology. Yes, AI, blockchain et al. are impossibly cool, and, yes, they will be involved in some breakthroughs, but technology has to serve the innovative idea, not lead the thinking.

I encourage you to read the whole piece. I think you'll get a lot out of it.

Have a great week.

Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll

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Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is the editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership.

He is also co-author of A Brief History of a Perfect Future: Inventing the Future We Can Proudly Leave Our Kids by 2050 and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of a best-seller on IBM, published in 1993.

Carroll spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter; he was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He later was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.