There’s fowl knocking at my kitchen door; an impatient staccato, it pauses, expectant like a breath held, then resumes. They know I am in here. I know what they want.

Executive Summary

Insurance executives incessantly pecking away at the problem of innovation—knowing its value but at the same time grounded by the engines of what they know how to do—may not cross the innovation threshold, Consultant Karen Morris suggests. Self-awareness, curiosity, collaboration and empathy—in short, the qualities now scientifically known to be common among chickens—are among those that may be needed to hatch new ideas.

The tapping pecks away at my concentration. I owe an executive a response to a fair but frustrating question. What makes commercial innovation so hard when we know its value and unambiguously know what we want? What we know to be true must surely be the engine of what we do. Indeed, wouldn’t it be bird-brained to think otherwise?

And yet, what we know to be true and the engine of what we know how to do may be the greatest impediments to innovation. What we know to be true: The collective accretion of expertise and experience may become hard-boiled over time—and you cannot unboil an egg. Neither are we inclined to since its infrangible solidity is reassuring.

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