A lab process, in many ways, resembles a voyage.
Land symbolizes safety and what we know. The sea is a different story, with its depths, waves, and unknowns. A lab process, in many ways, resembles a voyage. To do it successfully, you must have a strong framework in place—a vessel to provide safety and security amongst so many unknowns.
For the past 18 months, Reos Partners has been hosting the Innovative Inclusive Insurance Lab (iiiLab) and the Access to Insurance Initiative(A2ii) and the Global Leadership Academy housed within GIZ (Development agency for the German Government). Four lab teams have experimented and innovated, urged onward by the question: “How can we increase the uptake of good-quality insurance, by vulnerable people and businesses?”
“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. “Vincent Van Gogh
Here are the components which made this generative partnership possible, moving out of the realm of mystery and into the tangible. We believe these can be learned from and replicated in the future.
Agreeing on a compass to navigate complexities
From the first meeting, there was a realness to the proceedings, rather than a veneer of polish and perfection. The tone was lab-like—it was experimental, and the core ingredient was an egoless dynamic. Everyone was invested in making the iiiLab work to achieve results, and all were willing to figure out the best way forward, letting go of their positions to serve the greater whole. This does not mean common ground or resolution came easily, but communication was open and discussions were rigorous as people decided how best to approach workshop design, in order to meet Lab participants where they were at. And, further, about how to arrange the teams to help them develop
Clearly defined team member roles made it easier to move towards innovation. The rank and power of each role was acknowledged and used to move forward tasks that required more political and strategic influence. Also, by defining roles clearly, there was no need for power struggle. For example, if menial tasks were needed at a workshop and it was not part of a role, there was a fluidity to step in and support these tasks.
Staying on track, and reaching new shores
Regular meetings kept the ship on track. The leadership style was open and transparent, so no one had second guess what was happening or what was needed. The hosting team comprised of Reos Partners, GLAC, and A2ii had the ability to be reflexive, focused on task and delivery and also responding to moments that were stuck and evaluating—at a process level—what dynamic was creating the impediment.
After 18 months the vessel, with its four lab teams, arrived safely at a new shore with several lab-proven, culturally appropriate strategies for increasing access to insurance. Here are what a couple of the voyagers shared about the journey:
“The significant outcome is how it got stakeholders including competitors to talk with no barriers and contribute to the bigger picture of providing insurance to the vulnerable.”
“A strong shared vision amongst insurance stakeholders through proposed strategic collaborations. Rethinking around required changes regulatory framework to support innovations”
“The lab process has broadened our horizon. Initially, we were only blaming general public for the lack of insurance penetration. But we came to understand that we were not doing enough from our side.”
And so, the voyage continues. In one country, they are developing an online gaming app as a fun way to educate consumers about insurance. There is also testing paperless options and creating insurance for people with cancer. Government agencies are changing policies to make insurance regulations more inclusive, and to allow for innovation. Stakeholders—both private and public—are working to improve the customer journey by building more trust with consumers and changing the perception of insurance into valuable and essential support for families and businesses.