Delivering an Integrated Business and People Strategy for the Future of Insurance

Delivering an Integrated Business and People Strategy for the Future of Insurance
November 13, 2023 8 mins

Delivering an Integrated Business and People Strategy for the Future of Insurance

Designing an Integrated Business and People Strategy for the Future of Insurance Hero Banner

Insurance leaders can confidently future-proof their business strategy and avoid misalignment, by engaging the right groups of people to define and deliver their roadmap for success.

Key Takeaways
  1. In the current evolving risk environment, a misalignment of people and business strategies can have serious consequences.
  2. Bringing together diverse viewpoints to innovate, understand potential impacts and define strategic direction will increase confidence in the delivery of business ambition.
  3. The process should start with the c-suite and tap into three distinct groups with the right mindset, skills and technical expertise across insurance, emerging risks and change management.

To remain relevant in an evolving risk environment, (re)insurance industry leaders want to digitize their businesses and accommodate changing distribution patterns. Meanwhile, climate change, socio-economic and geo-political upheaval, are all contributing factors to the shortened shelf-life of macro-outlook predictions.

In this fast-moving business and macro environment, it is hard for (re)insurance leaders to prepare their organizations for an uncertain future. To keep up, they must think differently about change and use new ways to bring people with different perspectives together to inform and implement strategy.

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In recent client conversations, we have heard that even when insurance c-suite executives know where they want to be in three to five years’ time, it can be difficult to define how they will get there and what talent they need to succeed.

Louisa Blain
Insurance Talent Solutions Partner

Misalignment of People and Business Strategies

Misalignment of people and business strategies comes in many forms. A typical example is the company that embarks confidently on a multi-year re-platforming plan, on the assumption that all stakeholders agree. Yet, decisions made by a tech-focused stakeholder group, perhaps with limited understanding of the full impact on customer and potential people issues, can result in investment misspending and re-engineering of the program before it’s even off the ground.

In other instances, insurers correctly identify a business opportunity, only to be met with an unforeseen misalignment of talent and program goals. Take portfolio underwriting, for example. The market is moving toward tech-driven portfolio underwriting and yet, some organizations still struggle to enact the required change. These companies often give responsibility to an open market underwriter, who may be skeptical of the concept, believing it might make their expertise redundant. This then inadvertently undermines the change strategy.

Of course, these are worst case scenarios. But a misalignment of people and business strategy can be serious, leading to a lack of engagement, the premature discredit of initiatives, or leaving local teams to build out their own capability due to lack of timely response from the project team.

On the other hand, the power of an integrated business and people strategy, is emphasised when considering the typical features of portfolio underwriting initiatives that have succeeded by doing things differently:

  • Owned by a committed C Suite stakeholder group
  • Delivered by an empowered, diverse leadership team
  • ‘Incubated’ as a separate unit
  • Deliberately involved a blend of different capabilities
  • Nurtured talent to encourage new ways of working
  • Promoted defined target behaviours
  • Recognised and rewarded performance – the ‘what’ and the ‘how’
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Given how quickly the insurance business environment is changing, winning organizations will be those that are deliberately orchestrating talent through an integrated people strategy as a key part of their business transformation.

Louisa Blain
Insurance Talent Solutions Partner

Leveraging Diversity to Develop Optimal Strategic Direction

The challenge for leaders is therefore how to ensure the business strategy is integrated with, and supported by, a clear people strategy.

Insurers must first be clear on their business ambition and growth plans to address emergent risks and transformation challenges. To do this, leaders must bring together diverse viewpoints to innovate, understand potential impacts and define a roadmap to deliver on their strategic direction.

The process needs to start with the c-suite and tap into representatives from three distinct groups, each with unique skills, mindsets and different ways of working:

1. Insurance practitioners:

Technical people in insurance, such as underwriters, actuaries, and claims professionals, who understand how the business works today. They must also have an open mind to explore the impact of transformative trends, and what needs to be done from an insurance perspective to get ahead.

2. Industry futurists:

Experts who understand directionally where the world is going across specific emergent risks (i.e., cyber, biotech, geopolitics or climate). These disruptors are progressive, open minded, challenging and interested in enabling the sector to deliver its purposeful ambition.

3. Change orchestrators:

Change and transformation practitioners, who understand the insurance sector can facilitate effective collaboration across the insurance practitioners and industry futurists to bring out the best in people. They are not afraid to boldly challenge the status quo to design strategy, develop integrated roadmaps and enable delivery.

While strategy cannot be outsourced, organizations light in capability or capacity across these three areas can explore “buying” in short-term support. They should, however, plan to build out this talent, in line with agreed parameters, as part of their delivery implementation roadmap.

Oversight and ownership of strategy development and implementation must sit at the top with the business leaders. The chief strategy officer or operations officer — often the CEO’s unofficial chief of staff — holds the pivotal position. Their role varies across the industry, but they are best equipped to shape and drive an integrated approach, aligning people, process, and technology, while also fostering an environment that promotes collaboration.

Five Guiding Principles for Success

Insurers should always strive for a bold strategy that plays to their strengths. Don’t expect the perfect answer. When embarking on a change journey, it’s most important to involve the right people, and promote agility, collaboration, innovation and a drive to succeed.

Here are five simple guiding principles to follow:

  1. Invest time and resources to develop your strategic direction with an integrated roadmap that includes the people capabilities required to successfully deliver it.
  2. Bring a diverse group of people together with the right experiences and mindsets, blending insurance practitioners, industry futurists and change orchestrators — and leave hierarchy at the door.
  3. Engender a positive, constructive, collaborative environment that promotes innovation, diversity of thinking, robust challenge and fun.
  4. Translate energy generated through the strategy development process into implementation, articulating ways of working and enabling behaviors to inform and evolve the organization’s future culture.
  5. Agree on regular touchpoints to revisit strategy, allowing for course correction and re-energizing teams to maintain momentum and focus.

For more information, visit our Talent Strategies for Insurers page.

Aon’s Thought Leader
  • Louisa Blain
    Insurance Talent Solutions Partner

General Disclaimer

This document is not intended to address any specific situation or to provide legal, regulatory, financial, or other advice. While care has been taken in the production of this document, Aon does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the document or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way by any person who may rely on it. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. This document has been compiled using information available to us up to its date of publication and is subject to any qualifications made in the document.

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