SOURCE: X by 2

X by 2

November 17, 2014 10:37 ET

Creating Culture of Innovation at Insurance Companies; X by 2's Petersmark Offers Innovative Look at Innovation

BAL HARBOUR, FL--(Marketwired - Nov 17, 2014) - As CIO at a property/casualty insurer, Frank Petersmark helped establish an innovation center in 2009.

"We set up a virtual and physical space for innovators and collaborators and waited for the ideas to pour in," he said in an innovation workshop he led at Insurance & Technology's 2014 "Elite 8" Executive Summit. "Of course, they didn't."

The center birthed some useful ideas, but wasn't a game-changer. "But we learned several valuable insights that we would have otherwise never have known," said Petersmark, CIO advocate at X by 2, a top insurance IT consultancy.

He offered four insights.

Evolve, Don't Create

Cultures of innovation are not created, they evolve. You can't just announce an innovation initiative, create collaborative spaces, offer incentives, and have magic happen. People will view innovation as a temporary thing, subject to the whims of other corporate priority shifts.

Create the Environment, Not the Process

"We focused too much on the process of innovation: how to generate ideas, capture them, and assess their applicability and potential value, and what to do with them. That's putting the cart before the horse. What is more important is creating an environment that allows innovation to occur and ferment."

Lip Service Won't Work; You Must Model What You Want

Innovation is not formulaic; it's culturally specific to any given organization. One size does not fit all.

That means that hiring consultants to bring in an innovation template as a way to start is fine, but that alone probably won't result in a long-term culture of innovation. "If you really want an innovative culture, then leadership at every level must be observed modeling the behaviors you're trying to encourage," he said.

It's Not the Idea; It's the Mindset and Attitude

"It sounds counterintuitive, but innovation is not about generating ideas, at least not initially," Petersmark said. "It's about helping people adjust their mindsets and attitudes to be more open to change."

That means recognizing when change is needed and beneficial, accepting the change when it occurs, and adapting to the change over time.

X by 2 (www.xby2.com) is a technology consulting company in Farmington Hills, Mich., specializing in software, data architecture and transformation projects for the insurance industry.

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