14 November 2014ILS

Reinsurers need to nurture creative thinking

The latest report from the Bermuda ILS Convergence 2014 conference is that creativity is the new corporate capital

That was the key message from keynote speaker Erik Wahl who explained that in order to unleash creativity, reinsurers need to create an environment where failure is seen as an opportunity to learn and where imagination is encouraged.

A business strategist, artist and motivational speaker, Wahl praised Bermuda as an incubator of innovation.

However, he also highlighted the fact that education and upbringing commonly promote use of the analytical side of the brain over the creative side.

“It’s not our fault as adults or professionals or even as parents, because for the most part we were all taught and disciplined to become analytical and logical,” he said. “We were taught to become increasingly risk averse, increasingly operationally efficient and increasingly busy.”

He said this has created a business environment where people may talk about creativity and game changing opportunities but when it comes to making decisions they revert back to that analytical, risk averse approach.

“Our enterprise is set up to reward standardization and conformity,” he said. “We lament the fact that the arts are being cut yet as adults we still love analytics, we worship metrics.”

He argued that this contradicts the approach that is needed to truly create game changing opportunities - and that in order to unlock employees’ true creative potential it is important to change the way in which failure is viewed within an organisation.

“At a very early age we stigmatise mistakes, make our kids afraid of being wrong. If they are afraid of being wrong they will never come up with anything new.

“If you stigmatise mistakes, makes your employees afraid of being wrong, this can mean they never come up with anything new.

“I’m not saying you should all quit your jobs and start splashing paint around this is just a reminder that that concept of creative thinking has been wrongly diagnosed in adults. It’s a skill everyone can tap into – we are capable of so much more than we have been pre-conditioned to do.

“Our skills have to change. The skills that have guided us to success are not the ones that will sustain us going forward. If you want to grow your business – grow your people.”