What happens when you get 10 ‘idea people’ in a room? Sometimes, not much. But other times, you get great things. Breakout innovation teams are a way for large companies to dedicate a handful of employees and resources to long-term creative thinking, with the hopes of implementing new revenue streams for their company.
We see focused innovation in all of the great, Fortune 100 companies. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih said, “Following ‘best practices’ is a great way to stifle innovation and ensure that your business is average and behind the times.” Hsieh effectively turns his whole business into an innovation team with the three C’s - collisions, co-learning, and connectedness.
And remember Google’s 80/20 ‘innovation time off’, where employees were encouraged to spend 20% of their work week exploring new and interesting projects? This was an interpretation of an innovation team that produced great secondary business streams like Gmail and AdSense.
Following the success of companies like Zappos and Google, innovation teams are now a popular way to overcome the stifled innovation that is an unfortunate byproduct of corporate procedure. Functioning much like a small business, innovation teams operate independently of their parent organization, often with their own employees, funding, and business objectives.
Earlier this year, we partnered with RGA’s innovation team, RGAx, to develop a new business model called MyLifeCovered. If you’re not familiar, RGA is a reinsurance firm - they insure the insurance companies you’re used to hearing about. RGA has about $3 trillion of life reinsurance in force, and operates in 26 countries around the world - in other words, this is a series business. RGAx’s goal is to explore the possible role RGA can play in selling life insurance fully digitally, on behalf of their partners. For the test market, RGAx will focus in on cross fitters - statistically an under-insured group who could seriously benefit from their ‘best class’ pricing.
There are a lot of obvious benefits to being a long-standing, well established company like RGA. But there are benefits to being a small start-up, too. Enliven was established in a time when result-oriented thinking, lean product launches, and innovation was the norm, and these ideas surround many of our core values. A lot of older companies are still catching up to that way of doing business, and use partners like Enliven to do so more effectively. The RGAx innovation team is relatively new, and they recognized their need for a collaborator that not only has strong technology competencies but can help them think and act like a start-up.
To help them begin that way of thinking, we had a conversation with Todd (RGAx’s project manager) about the long-term goals of MyLifeCovered. In their excitement over the new business idea, the innovation team brought a lot of ideas to the table. After that conversation, we sorted through all those ideas and decided which ones will likely have the most significant impact. In other words, the launching process is a matter of determining ‘now’ or ‘next’, where we identify target goals of engagement at each step and strategize how to scale accordingly. From there, we were able to build a product for them to publish
The MyLifeCovered product we delivered has a lot of cool features. It has a ‘needs calculator’ where you can plug in your information and get a quote. It has a portal to connect you to the supplying company and actually purchase your insurance. It has educational reading that addresses misconceptions and the basics of life insurance. But above all, this website was published with a respectful design - that is, it respects your time, uses your language, and is extremely accessible on any device. It’s laid out in a way that’s intuitive and fades in the background so you have a productive experience when considering life insurance. But most of all, it covers all of the ‘now’ pieces RGAx needs to launch their brand new service so they can learn, evolve, and build an even more successful model in the future.
Who doesn’t want a free life insurance quote? Check it out on RGAx’s new website !
If you or your company are launching a new product or service, need help with an innovation team, or are looking for a creative partner, shoot me an email - I’d love to talk about how Enliven can elevate your new venture.