Imagine an idyllic, pristine beach in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. A breeze off the ocean holds the scent of flowers. The horizon, naggingly punctuated by tiny container ships, dissolves into the infinity pool. Relaxed, floating bodies slip into conversation—about insurance, naturally.

Executive Summary

Innovation rarely comes in the hundred-million-dollar splashes that impatient, linear-thinking insurance and reinsurance executives are seeking. Context and convergence matter, explains Innovation Consultant Karen A. Morris, adding "re-view"—the process of recombining and repurposing smaller ripples of progress—to the elements that she says comprise a cohesive innovation practice.

The floating body to my right belongs to an insurance industry executive. Our conversation ebbs away from our present paradise into the tribulation of innovation in insurance and reinsurance. We need more new ideas, he says. These must be big, hundred-million-dollar ideas and, given what I do for a living, do I have a process for that?

Has an invisible gauntlet been thrown into the pool?

I am not sure but I doubt this conversation’s cargo would leave port.

The quick answer from my perspective: Approaching organizational capabilities for innovation with an idea-generation and numbers focus—and with amplified but often ambivalent calls for “needles to move” and for “games to change”—is a recipe for failure.

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