When you’re in a consumer-focused business, your job is to help people. Those of us in the insurance industry know we have a great advantage: When people have their worst day, we help them put things back together. We respond to their crises. We have a responsibility to be there for them, to deliver on what we promised. There’s nobility and dignity in that. It speaks to a higher purpose, and it’s an honor and a privilege to fulfill that purpose.Executive SummarySeeing unrecognized potential within a company that had accepted mediocrity and financial underperformance as its destiny, Joseph Lacher and a new management team at Kemper helped to reinvigorate employees to aspire to greatness, instilling a culture in which they act like owners in everything they do to accomplish the noble mission of helping customers dealing with crises.
It’s our duty to attack that mission and purpose with the vigor it deserves. When I joined Kemper at the end of 2015, I was faced with a set of challenges related to undefined strategic focus and financial underperformance. But perhaps our biggest problem was a culture of complacency—a comfortable sense of resignation that our results, our position in the market and our limitations were our destiny. Over time, decisions had been made that enabled mediocrity. We lost our sharpness and our perspective on our competitors and customers. Coupled with a lack of strategic focus, there was no impetus or incentive to change. The result was that it sapped the company’s energy and drive, and jobs became routine. This continued because mediocrity can be—and often is—rewarded.