A company culture that can meet the demands of a digital age will make or break a company, no matter size, industry or geographic location. While waiting for cultural change to occur within your company organically may sound nice, it will leave you in the dust of your competitors.

Executive Summary

Leaders believe that cultural challenges are the biggest barriers their companies face in meeting digital objectives, but making a cultural shift isn't easy. Here, consultants from McKinsey and Bain & Company outline three key steps for insurers, including one that may be particularly difficult for cautious underwriters: taking more risks.

As Harvard Business Review‘s “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture” states, “Culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive” (Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 2018 edition, by Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price and J. Yo-Jud Cheng, p. 44).

Insurance companies typically have cultures that emphasize stability; they prioritize consistency, predictability and maintenance of the status quo. They follow rules, use hierarchies as control structures and strive for efficiency. The digital age, however, requires a culture that emphasizes flexibility, adaptability and receptiveness to change. According to Harvard Business Review, cultures that favor flexibility “tend to prioritize innovation, openness, diversity and a longer-term orientation.”

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