Radical Candor: The Key Going Forward for Insurtech

By Sam White, Founder and CEO And Freedom Brokers, Action 365 and Pukka Insure

Sam White, Founder and CEO

I read a really interesting article the other day about Kim Scott, The New York Times bestselling author and former Google and Apple employee and her new form of management performance enhancement. Scott advocates ‘Radical Candor’—the business of ‘how to get what you want by saying what you mean.’ Sounds obvious does it not? But, you would not believe how many people set out in business without this approach.

Reading the article made me realize that unwittingly, my business, The Freedom Group (parent company of an insurance provider and associated services), has been organically deploying this strategic approach, particularly over the last 12 months and here is why I think it works.

We are a relatively small organization with a team of 245 people, many of whom have worked or known me for a very long time, and as my LinkedIn posts probably demonstrate there is an awful lot of love that f lows between us. We like to think of ourselves as a family, and as with most families, we definitely do have our disagreements. But what I have found recently, particularly around the launch of our startup MGA and our own brokerage that we have begun to really engage in honest feedback with each other. I am pretty vocal about the fact that I do not like traditional performance reviews and even some of the more recent concepts such as 360 feedback, which I think can just lead to a form of bullying and points scoring if the team dynamic is not where it needs to be—does not really hit the mark for me.

In my view, the critical point in any relationship— business or personal—is that you are able to communicate how you feel and for the person you are communicating with to be able to receive it in the way it is intended. This is even more important when involved in a startup, particularly when in the case of insurtechs, where we are trying to merge a very traditional market place with cutting-edge technology.

Take the process of automating a customer journey as an example. It is critical that individuals with experience of the insurance journey and nuances are able to help guide the developers as to what barriers could be there when they are trying to deploy the tech. But, the experienced people also need to accept that the solution may be there in a form they have never even contemplated. They need to be able to hear each other and properly consider all the options in order to collaborate effectively.

Time and time again, I have seen the conf licts and disfunction that can occur when two extremely intelligent competent individuals try to collaborate but are coming from very different places with vastly different experiences, and they are not working from a baseline of open communication and trust. Such an innocuous little five letter word, yet it is so hard to win, and it is so easily lost. I encourage my team to work from a position of trusting one another and themselves until proven otherwise.

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