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Are we being more honest about the challenges ahead?

The importance of empathy and the human element in business transformation
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Are we being more honest about the challenges ahead?

At TINtech London market at the beginning of February we enjoyed several outstanding presentations from senior leaders across our market. As in previous years, the discussions centred around transformation, strategy, talent, and notably this year, the extensive application of AI in insurance.

However, there was a noticeable shift in the tone of the conversations. Speakers were more candid about the challenges they faced, shared more real-life examples, and emphasised the importance of empathy and the human element in business transformation.

A key point in both keynote presentations was the necessity of having a clear guiding vision, or "North Star." Both speakers recounted instances where the absence of a unified vision and objectives had been insurmountable obstacles. This honest approach was refreshing, especially considering the tendency of many speakers to dwell on theoretical problem-solving, overlooking the audience's desire for raw, real-world stories that reveal the scars and in what circumstance they were.

The idea of initiating change without a solid foundational strategy seems absurd, doesn't it? Just as you wouldn't embark on a vacation without a sense of your destination, the same principle applies to business transformations. There's usually some level of objective, whether it's choosing between a warm or cold location, a distant or nearby destination, or a beach versus a city setting.

Transformation programs are not launched haphazardly; they are undertaken with the best of intentions and a plan to establish a clear strategy. However, it's not always straightforward. We encounter obstacles, shifts in priorities, changes in leadership, mergers, acquisitions, and the daunting task of cultural transformation. Often, the real issue is that we're attempting to tackle more than we can manage.

In most cases, there's a commendable goal, typically aimed at creating a more efficient operating model, expanding distribution, attracting superior talent, or innovating through new products and services. Yet, many initiatives falter when they try to achieve multiple goals simultaneously. Focus is crucial: starting with a single strategy makes it easier to align the entire organisation behind one objective, simplifying the process and clearly defining a vision of the future.

As implied by many of the speakers, this endeavour requires significant effort. Initiating the process is challenging enough, but dedicating time early on to collaborate across your organization in setting the strategy can be incredibly rewarding. This stage allows you to assess employee sentiment, their satisfaction with the current state, and their hopes for the future.

At the outset, you have the opportunity to deeply understand your business, more importantly, this is when you should establish some baseline metrics that will serve as benchmarks for the challenges ahead but more importantly have a metric to prove your success.

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