Never Mind the Silos: Collaboration across lines _
May 16, 2014
It’s 1975 in Chelsea. A swaggering youth walks into the clothing boutique SEX owned by Malcolm McLaren wearing a homemade t-shirt bearing the legend “I Hate Pink Floyd”, with eyes of the band members scratched out. McLaren, leaping on the promise before him, asks the youngster to audition for a band he’s forming – he asks him to sing ‘Eighteen’ by Alice Cooper. Impromptu audition passed, John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten - is recruited into the band.
Yet the magical alchemy is not complete until McLaren decides to pair the musically competent Rotten with a certain John Simon Ritchie, who couldn’t play a note but undeniably has the attitude to front the band. It’s only when Ritchie, better known to the world as Sid Vicious, joins Rotten that the legend of ‘The Sex Pistols’ truly begins. A great partnership which for a brief and glorious moment in 1977 propelled punk to cultural centre stage with the single ‘God Save the Queen’, banned by the BBC and practically everyone else, but still reaching number 1. Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious who, together with legendary bassist Glen Matlock, define punk.
Rotten and Vicious, Astaire & Rogers, Lennon & McCartney… you can make your own list of great pairings that have defined a genre. What’s wonderful about such pairings is that indisputable as the greatness of each partner is, together they managed to fuse to produce an even greater magic.
In our corner of the world, however, it has taken some time for the benefits of working together to be properly appreciated. Insurers have historically been adept at working along product-driven lines, with a series of separate P&Ls driving the company.
Yet within a company, when it comes to learning lessons from each other, bringing efforts together and hunting as a pack we have been less successful. I’ll hold my hands up No One Is Innocent, we have all been guilty in the past but I think the industry is now much better attuned to the benefits of working across product lines.
Collaboration across lines could lead to the development of products that could really answer the risk needs of business with potentially more effective cover. After all, when a client is seeking cover for cyber liabilities and business interruption – why not take a holistic view? Or what about a real curve ball: product liability and D&O? Businesses often have complex risk portfolios, understanding this means the most relevant products and solutions can be designed and the most relevant solution delivered. I am sure Rotten wasn’t anticipating being quoted by a guy commenting on insurance, but hey yes, “Don't accept the old order. Get rid of it.” Perhaps this is what innovation is all about.
This article was originally published in Post magazine on April 16, 2014
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I have spent my entire career – more than 25 years and counting – in insurance, and I’m proud to see how the industry has changed over that time to become more open and diverse. But we cannot rest on our laurels; there is still a long way to go.
I began my working life as an underwriter and have worked