I recently had to go at one of those psychometric tests. You know the ones where some human nature theory is linked to 200 questions, all of which are intricately cross-referenced, to give an insight into your character, using a series of letters like INXS or a colour-coded mood chart.
This one was all about strengths and I discovered that one of my strengths is allegedly “ideation” which is a fancy non-word for “is good at coming up with ideas”.
While it’s natural to be a little cynical about these tests, I prefer to agree with this finding. I do like coming up with ideas. Brainstorming is very worthwhile in my book. Sometimes the ideas to come out may seem far fetched, and often I have my actuarial colleagues shuffling me towards the coat stand.
But one off the wall idea I had along with a colleague many years ago led to the development of the current menu protection product. So, you can see why I’m a big fan of ideas.
I also like to see how good ideas can have shaped other industries, and to see if we can learn anything as a consequence. Some people probably laughed at the idea of a Hoover - sorry a vacuum cleaner - without a bag. But Mr Dyson stuck with his idea and made it work.
And the other day I came across a music website which allows you to select what music you want to listen to based upon your mood. What a good idea, I thought. Rather than choose tracks you simply select whether you feel dark, sad, happy etc, and it picks the tracks based on that. You would be surprised by what you get played.
Thankfully, some really good ideas have come out of the protection market over the years too. The menu product certainly shook things up, but was it our Dyson? Well it was innovative, but the component parts of the menu didn’t change radically, so perhaps not.
If we were to develop the protection equivalent of a Dyson, I wonder what it would look like? What form would radically different protection take? Alas it’s rather difficult to find out because radically different doesn’t necessarily sell in sufficient volumes over the short-term, and who wants to impact on shareholder value these days?
But ideas and innovation do not have to be restricted to the product. What about the underwriting process? What about the way we handle claims or how we communicate with our customers? How often in our busy business lives do we really take genuine quality time out to brainstorm ideas surrounding every aspect of the customer proposition and experience? And then how often do we take those ideas and nurture them, test them, filter them and develop them into something that makes a difference?
It’s about time that we saw some really interesting new ideas in the protection market beyond adding new illnesses to a CIC plan, or electrifying our underwriting process.
What about underwriting without GPRs? What about critical illness cover without definitions? What about income protection without underwriting at the application and claims stage? Oh dear, I can feel myself being shuffled towards the coat stand again!
But I like to think I know a really silly idea when I see one. On British Airways economy flights you now get presented with a plastic waste bag to put your rubbish in after the sandwich lunch service. What’s silly about that? Well, the plastic waste bag comes wrapped in its own plastic wrapper, which immediately becomes waste itself and therefore ends up inside the bag that was previously inside it.
If you travel regularly with British Airways please feel free to bring this bizarre and not very environmentally-friendly development to their attention.
Roger Edwards is product director at Bright Grey.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
Partner Insight: Continuing the Architas education series for clients.
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