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Smaller Insurers Often Threatened by Technology Changes

Robert Regis Hyle | August 04, 2014

Carriers wisely worry about process management, but not nearly enough attention is paid to the fundamental changes in culture that come with true change management. The axiom “culture eats strategy for lunch” (or whichever meal you prefer) is more than just a cliché.

It is one thing to get employees to change the way they go about their job when a new system gets upgraded, even with employees who are resistant to change. But to get them to re-examine not only their work, but the way the entire company will operate in the future requires a mind free of inhibitions.

There is no doubt that great patience needs to be applied when changes are necessitated. The old leadership trait “my way or the highway” makes leaders sound strong, but what if the people hitting the highway are the ones with more institutional knowledge than any of the current leadership.

Anthony Tempesta, senior manager, advisory services for EY, in an article on the ITA Pro website, states the insurance industry has gone through an unprecedented change in the last decade, so transformation is no longer an ugly word for carriers—as long as it is done right.

“Companies are making investments; they are swapping out legacy platforms and that new technology brings a lot of change,” says Tempesta. “It’s not just plug in the software and use it; it’s changing organizational structure, how people respond to clients, and how they work with each other. Customers want things faster and better with a higher level of self-service. Change management is imbedding that capability—that disciplined approach—within the organization.”

Smaller companies likely have bigger problems with managing changes, particularly if they have more than a few staff members who believe in the mantra “this is the way we’ve always done it.”
It’s difficult for both carriers and employees alike to adjust that mindset and it takes great patience.

An even older saw than the previous one, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is dangerous for both the old dogs and the ones full of new tricks. Finding a common ground where both sides can meet and discuss why change is important and how it will be handled is an important step in the process along with an open mind.

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