Creativity…Your Unique Competitive Advantage
"Necessity is the mother of invention, it is true — but its father is creativity.” - Jonathan Schattke
Insurance is a multifaceted and complicated product, custom-designed to fit each and every unique case. As the international economic and political landscape continues to experience seismic shifts, our clients rely on us now — more than ever before — to help them navigate the complexities of their personal and professional risk.
So, how do we set ourselves apart in this ultra-competitive industry, fraught with rising global threats and plagued by commoditization? How should we navigate the increasingly convoluted marketplace, and offer our clients unique value beyond price alone?
The answer is simple: get creative.
At its core, creativity is the driving force behind the imagination and conception of impactful products and experiences that generate economic, institutional, or cultural value. Creative individuals possess the unique ability to imagine new solutions to existing problems by focusing on connections between otherwise dissimilar things.
Despite public perception of insurance as a transactional industry dependent solely on its products and their prices, research demonstrates that imagination and creativity can benefit all industries, including — and especially — the insurance industry. Infusing a spirit of creativity into your organization offers nearly endless benefits, from improving customer experience to transforming workplace culture and differentiating yourself from the competition. Here are the four primary reasons every leader should seek to cultivate creativity:
Evolving Risks Require Creative Solutions
Between growing pension fund deficits, the rise of cyber-security threats, and the questionable future of the healthcare system, it’s safe to say that the global economic outlook is becoming increasingly turbulent every day. As the nature of risk evolves alongside current events, consumers will rely heavily on their trusted risk advisor to shape innovative individual responses for protection amidst this ever-changing landscape. Under these circumstances, only the most creative risk advisors will succeed in meeting their customers’ expectations and outperforming their peers. Why? Creativity is the birthplace of innovation, and those who are unable to innovate will be left behind. In order to innovate, we must first identify an unmet need and present effective new solutions to solve the problem, just as the most creative minds have demonstrated throughout the course of history. Take, for instance, the Great Fire of London in 1666, when flames ravaged the city for 5 days and destroyed nearly 13,000 homes. Nicholas Barbon, one of England’s most creative economic innovators, recognized the unmet need for property insurance and established one of the first fire insurance companies, aptly named the “Insurance Office for Houses”. The company maintained its own firefighting department, and provided “fire marks” to policy subscribers so that firefighters could easily identify the homes they were to protect. This kind of creative and critical problem-solving is exactly the mindset that revolutionizes an industry and creates lasting value for the consumer.
Creativity: a Uniquely Human Advantage
In recent years, the rise of digital technology — particularly artificial intelligence and robotic insurance quote-generators — has caused some concern about the future of the insurance professional. Fortunately, we need not worry about our job security. Humans have one distinct ability that robots simply cannot replicate: we can imagine and develop specialized, creative new solutions that consider all of the nuances inherent to each client’s unique set of circumstances. As one underwriting expert explains, “I have a firm belief that as much technology as we implement in this industry...you never can fully extricate the human from that equation. [Customers] can get that instant gratification of the technology, but then if they want to go that next step, that’s when it comes to that human interface, that’s when an underwriter has to look at the account and use two hemispheres of a functional brain. There are so many variables in commercial insurance, and that’s the challenge to why someone hasn’t completely automated it – underwriting has thousands of variables and there are thousands of underwriting rules that vary from carrier to carrier.” Whether you’re crafting a benefits strategy or a life insurance policy, your ability to think creatively provides an opportunity to generate value for your clients that extends far beyond price alone — and sets you apart from the robot.
Creative Culture = Happy Employees
While most organizations prioritize productivity, output, and efficiency, data shows that leaders who foster a culture of creativity enjoy increased employee retention and workplace satisfaction, resulting in better outcomes for both the customer and the company. In fact, a 2014 Adobe study showed that companies with a creative culture were three times more likely to be recognized as a “Best Place to Work” compared to their less-creative counterparts, which accelerates the talent acquisition process and improves the quality of prospective job candidates.
The Creativity Advantage
We tend to think of creativity as an abstract “soft skill” reserved exclusively for musicians and artists. But research shows that creative thinking has a broad range of applications in major corporations across all industries, resulting in increased efficiency and enormous cost savings. Recognizable brands including Frito Lay, General Electric, and Texas Instruments have each invested in substantial in-house creativity training courses with remarkable results. Frito Lay credits their creative training programs with helping them save $600 million over a four-year period, while a creativity course at GE resulted in a 60% increase in the development of patentable new solutions to better serve their customers. Silvania, a leader in lighting technology, reported similarly impressive success after employees underwent a single 40-hour creativity program: the company estimates an ROI of $20 for every $1 spent on promoting creativity.
The Adobe study concluded that organizations who embrace creativity consistently outperform their competition on three key performance indicators: revenue growth, market share, and employee satisfaction. McKinsey provided additional supporting evidence for this theory, which demonstrated that the most successful companies are those driven by creativity, innovation, and growth-oriented development.
From increased revenue to improved employee morale, the benefits of creativity and innovation in the workplace are extensive and undeniable. The ability to think creatively provides a unique advantage to insurance professionals as they navigate the complexities of the current global economy, and helps them secure future success within the industry. Next, we’ll explore the best methods to inspire creativity within the culture of your organization to generate better outcomes for your company and your customers.