Insurance Brokers: Read the signs and act…or risk being left behind!

Extracts taken from the June 2009 edition

OK, so YOU know where you want the business to go and, hopefully, have a clear idea of HOW to get there but that is only the start of the process.

Even in large organisations, the latter is not necessarily true! Many brokers who have started down this path have realised very early on that quantifying how success will look is easy. Plotting a course can be relatively straightforward too. Identifying and developing the opportunities should not be difficult for experienced brokers. From my own experience, that is where the trouble starts… Read more of this post

How effective is your marketing?

If marketing has one goal, it’s to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions. That’s why consumer electronics companies make sure not only that customers see their televisions in stores but also that those televisions display vivid high-definition pictures. It’s why, a decade ago, began offering targeted product recommendations to consumers already logged in and ready to buy. And it explains P&G’s decision, long ago, to produce radio and then TV programs to reach the audiences most likely to buy its products—hence, the term “soap opera.
Follow the link: Consumer decisions

Talking about CommUnity of Minds

 This is a very interesting article (from The Guardian – see link below) from a website whose participants appear qualified and able to promote a very positive and persuasive argument for change.

OK so there is a real macro economic bias and much talk of USA/Japan/Germany but what I have taken from it is that investment, trade, innovation, quality, value are the hallmarks of change. Businesses built upon sound principles don’t tend to be overly burdened by debt and, therefore, should benefit from leadership that recognises the need to embrace and promote change.

Others may have no option but to review and/or downsize their operation to survive…for the time being! BUT, the longer business leaders ignore the need to re-align their organisation, choosing, instead, to sacrifice staff the further behind their more enlightened competitors they may fall. NOT a recipe for long term success!?    


CommUnity of Minds

Six hat thinking


The following is an excerpt from John Culvenor and Dennis Else Engineering Creative Design, 1995)

White Hat on the Hats

There are six metaphorical hats and the thinker can put on or take off one of these hats to indicate the type of thinking being used. This putting on and taking off is essential. The hats must never be used to categorize individuals, even though their behaviour may seem to invite this. When done in group, everybody wear the same hat at the same time.

White Hat thinking

This covers facts, figures, information needs and gaps. "I think we need some white hat thinking at this point…" means Let’s drop the arguments and proposals, and look at the data base."


Red Hat thinking

This covers intuition, feelings and emotions. The red hat allows the thinker to put forward an intuition without any need to justify it. "Putting on my red hat, I think this is a terrible proposal." Usually feelings and intuition can only be introduced into a discussion if they are supported by logic. Usually the feeling is genuine but the logic is spurious. The red hat gives full permission to a thinker to put forward his or her feelings on the subject at the moment.


Black Hat thinking

This is the hat of judgment and caution. It is a most valuable hat. It is not in any sense an inferior or negative hat. The black hat is used to point out why a suggestion does not fit the facts, the available experience, the system in use, or the policy that is being followed. The black hat must always be logical.


Yellow Hat thinking

This is the logical positive. Why something will work and why it will offer benefits. It can be used in looking forward to the results of some proposed action, but can also be used to find something of value in what has already happened.


Green Hat thinking

This is the hat of creativity, alternatives, proposals, what is interesting, provocations and changes.


Blue Hat thinking

This is the overview or process control hat. It looks not at the subject itself but at the ‘thinking’ about the subject. "Putting on my blue hat, I feel we should do some more green hat thinking at this point." In technical terms, the blue hat is concerned with meta-cognition.

9 Signs of a declining business

There isn’t too much in this list that is controversial but it will serve some very well to take as objective a view as they possibly can of the symptoms. There can be a multitude of reasons how an organisation can arrive in such a “bad place” and recovery will be extremely difficult without a dramatic and permanent change of culture. Easier said than done!

Even with, experienced, external intervention change is extremely difficult. But, until such time as change is effected, the decline will continue and accelerate. The increasing complexity that such a dysfunctional organisation creates generates increased uncertainty that is communicated via its inter-connections with stakeholders, into its ecosystem and connected networks.

Too many businesses look externally for risks when experience tells us that the source tends to be much closer to home!
9 Signs of a Declining Business

1. Fuzzy Vision: people don’t know where the organization is going and what it is trying to achieve in the future.

2. Lack of Leadership Skills: fear of change; leaders lack entrepreneurial spirit; leadership style on the part of management is either too directive or too hands-off; managers do not lead, they just administrate and micromanage; weak leadership development program.

3. Discouraging Culture: no shared values; lack of trust: blame culture; focus on problems, not opportunities; people don’t have fun at work; diversity not celebrated; failures not tolerated; people lose confidence in their leaders and systems.

4. High Bureaucracy: bureaucratic organizational structures with too many layers; high boundaries between management layers; slow decision making;: too close monitoring of things and subordinates; too many tools and documents discouraging creative thinking; bureaucracy is tolerated.

5. Lack of Initiative: poor motivation encouragement; people do not feel their contributions make a difference; management fails to engage the organization effectively; people work defensively and not creatively, they do their job, and nothing more.

6. Poor Vertical Communication: people have no clue of the big picture and do not feel that their contributions are important; too much uncertainty; people don’t know what top-managers are thinking and planning.

7. Poor Cross-functional Collaboration: functional mindset; lack of cross-functional goals and cross-functional collaboration spirit; functional, no enterprise-wide business process management; no cross-functional management committees; lack of or powerless cross-functional teams.

8. Poor Teamwork: no organizational commitment to team culture; lack of shared and worthwhile goals; weak team leaders; team members who don’t want to play as part of a team are tolerated; teams are too large; lack of shared rewards.

9. Poor Idea and Knowledge Management: cross-pollination of ideas is not facilitated; no creativity, idea and knowledge management strategies and systems; “know-it-all” attitude; “not invented here” syndrome.

Harvey Schiller