The Exec team at the Co-op Insurance, one of the UK’s top 10 motor insurers, wanted to unlock the creativity of its teams, and develop a culture of innovation.
In what was a large, complex and functionally silo’d organisation, the ambition was to apply corporate entrepreneur models taken straight from the startup world, and deploy these into the business’s workforce.
Getting the approach and model right, engaging the staff, and challenging the culture, would all be critical to the initiative’s success.
At Ninety, we help insurers behave more like startups, and use our “Change Different” methodology to bring Silicon Valley techniques and culture into the large corporate setting. We were well-placed to support, and worked closely with the CEO and his Exec to build the “Innovation Challenge”.
There were a number of key take-aways from what we built, and how we ran this programme:
- Challenge-led: we set out 6 challenges, endorsed by the CEO, and each sponsored by one of the Exec team, that dealt with some aspect of customer feedback or the corporate strategy. We believe in targeted innovation.
- Inclusive & open: each and every member of the c. 1,300 staff members were invited to participate, with the best ideas being filtered through a “Britain’s Got Talent”-style process.
- Metered funding: at a Dragons’ Den-style event before the Exec, corporate entrepreneurs pitched for meaningful seed funding to take their idea to pilot stage.
- Prioritised innovation: those who were selected as corporate entrepreneurs were released from their BAU roles to focus on their ideas.
- Coaching & mentoring: we wrapped specialist coaching and mentoring services around each of the final 6 corporate entrepreneurs, as well as the direct support and sponsorship of one of the Exec team members.
- Test & learn & scale MVPs: Ninety created an pop-up innovation centre at Media City in Manchester, and facilitated a test & learn & scale process using a variation of our 123 framework, making the 6 corporate entrepreneurs in effect Agile Product Owners within Scrum teams that brought their ideas to life through design and technology.
- Customer-centred: throughout the process, we provided access to our customer panels, bringing the customer voice close into the heart of the process, and coaching the corporate entrepreneurs in the principles of customer co-design.
- Agile collaboration: we implemented lightweight Agile methodologies, handled all the Scrum Mastering, and used Jira and similar tools to take the corporate entrepreneurs’ ideas through the early stages of development.
- Culture-shifting: Ninety supported the company-wide comms process, helping the CEO and the Exec communicate the stages of the Innovation Challenge, reinforcing the commitment to a culture of innovation.
Throughout, we applied our standard, iterative “Change Different” approach, empowering the corporate entrepreneurs, reinforcing lasting culture change, and learning quickly from real hands-on customer feedback.
The response to the Innovation Challenge was significant: 130 ideas were submitted against the 6 challenges set by the Exec. This represented a full 10% of the workforce, and quality ideas were submitted by all levels of seniority. A significant key to the take-up of the programme was the personal endorsement and sponsorship by the Co-op Insurance’s CEO, Mark Summerfield, and the entirety of his Exec team.
Through the evaluation and filtering process, 6 corporate entrepreneurs were given seed funding from the Exec, and support from Ninety to launch a full MVP of their idea to pilot.
Several of these ideas were launched at scale, with some gaining meaningful endorsement and recognition by the industry press. One such was the “Home Insurance Explained” concept, brought to life through HTML 5.0 interactivity, and which reinforced the “Doing the right thing” mantra of the Co-op by introducing an unprecedented level of transparency around home insurance pricing and actuarial calculations. This was launched to 10,000 customers as part of the MVP pilot phase, and is now part of the standard proposition from the Co-op.
Whilst the Innovation Challenge was considered highly successful, and generated significant cultural shift, perhaps most important is what happens after Ninety’s job was finished. And so we were delighted that the customer-centric innovation culture was picked up and ‘owned’ by the business, with the motor-insurance sister proposition to the Home Insurance Explained MVP being entirely self-launched by the Co-op teams just 6 months later.