Sometimes we get in our own way. We think our ideas are crazy and rationalize them away because we see too many hurdles to overcome. Before we know it, we’ve tossed aside an idea that could have made an impact, that could have been transformative. And that practice is not serving us or our clients well.

Executive Summary

The insurance industry needs to grow more comfortable with stepping away from thoughtful underwriting to uncover totally new ways to tackle our clients' operational and risk management challenges, writes Gary Kaplan, president of North America Construction for AXA XL. Here, Kaplan describes his division's experience with blue sky thinking and shares lessons on innovation AXA XL learned in the process of developing an entire construction ecosystem that helps profit-strained clients take advantage of technology that started with a suite of weather technologies that could predict the number of construction project days lost to weather and went on to include benchmarking tools to gauge clients' tech adoption levels and claims experience against peers.

To help our clients address risks that stand in their way, we often need to get out of our own way. And we need to think big. Call it “blue sky thinking” or brainstorming without restrictions. No ideas are shot down immediately. In fact, in this brainstorming approach, we are more receptive to creative ideas regardless of whatever constraints might present themselves. We’ll worry about the obstacles later on.

The insurance industry needs more blue sky thinking. We need to grow more comfortable with stepping away from our thoughtful underwriting ways to uncover totally new ways to tackle our clients’ operational and risk management challenges. More importantly, we need to act on some big ideas. That is going to strengthen the relationships we have with our clients and elevate our purpose and relevance in our clients’ risk management efforts.

I have seen a big “blue sky” idea get pushed to become a recent reality and lived to tell about it. From the experience, we can all learn some valuable lessons that, I hope, can keep our industry thinking big and less mindful of limitations.

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