Shoes matter. This is a universal truth. They particularly matter to me. Some may remember when Sex and the City protagonist Carrie Bradshaw was mugged and exclaimed: “Please sir, you can take my Fendi baguette, you can take my ring and my watch, but don’t take my Manolo Blahniks!”

Executive Summary

Innovation Consultant Karen Morris offers up a new strategic menu classic for insurance executives: "fish 'n' shoes" thinking. By swimming against the current of industry assumptions and slipping into different pairs of shoes to navigate changing business terrains, carriers can join the likes of shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who found a competitive advantage in the most unlikely place—on the bottoms of signature stilettos, or the leaders of online shoe distributor Zappos, who offer better customer experience as a differentiator.

She was speaking a language I understand.

Ask anyone who knows me. I have been fortunate, frazzled and frustrated to have traveled the world in my career—and my shoes came with me. When it comes to shoes, I laugh in the face of excess baggage charges.

You see, I believe that as we embrace the many changes through our multifaceted, iterative careers, we need a change of shoes. As we grow personally and professionally, life urges us to step into new shoes—literally and metaphorically.

As leaders and innovators, we need something more—a range of shoes. By this I mean the ability to adapt intellectually and physically to different kinds of business terrain and working environments. The exigencies of shifting contexts, where our fast-moving business plateaux increasingly slip and glide like ice-floes, force us to tackle steep gradients of learning, maneuver high-velocity change, speed up to grab advantage, and decelerate to assess and navigate risk. We need a rich array of mental footwear to perform this complex choreography and get to where we need to be.

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