3 min read

Using OKRs for Your Digital Transformation

Using OKRs for Your Digital Transformation

The insurance industry has entered the world of digital transformation. It may have taken longer to get to this point, but now that it has begun, insurance brokers face a relentless tide of disruption. Evolving customer expectations, nimble insurtech startups, and an increasingly digital landscape are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Using traditional goal-setting methods to tackle the demands of becoming more agile and innovative can be tempting. Unfortunately, such methods are often laden with vague objectives and lagging indicators. If you’re lucky, your brokerage will tread water while barely keeping your competitors in sight. But the most likely scenario is the digital surge will overtake you as conventional goal-setting simply can’t keep pace.


The OKR Framework

If treading water sounds exhausting, that’s because it is. It is here that OKRs are not only lifeboats; they are lean vessels that can set your brokerage's sails on a course for digital success. Unlike their static KPI counterparts, OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, act as a roadmap with a built-in compass, guiding your brokerage towards ambitious goals with measurable benchmarks.

Research shows that 70% of businesses see performance gains with well-implemented OKRs. That number is not insignificant, and if you have lofty goals, it is easy to imagine how OKRs can serve as a sort of treasure map. Your objective represents the buried treasure – an overarching aspiration, like "Become the most innovative insurance brokerage in the Northeast." 

While objectives are often lofty goals, key results are designed to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) metrics. They become the compass readings, guiding you closer to your objective with precise directions, such as:

  • Key Result 1: Achieve 100% paperless operations by Q4.
  • Key Result 2: Secure a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 80+ for our web, mobile, and other tech-driven experiences.
  • Key Result 3: Increase margins by 6% through automation and AI-powered underwriting.

These Key Results act as checkpoints, allowing you to measure progress and adjust course as needed. Remember, Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel who popularized OKRs, emphasized that they should be "ambitious," pushing your brokerage beyond its comfort zone.


OKRs Vs. KPIs: A Tale of Two Metrics

Traditional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have served their purpose but fall short in driving transformative change. They often focus on lagging indicators, measuring past performance rather than driving future success. Additionally, KPIs can be siloed, leading to misaligned efforts across departments.

OKRs, on the other hand, are forward-looking and collaborative. They align every team member with the overarching objective, ensuring everyone paddles in the same direction. Moreover, the cyclical nature of OKRs, with regular check-ins and adjustments, allows for agility in a rapidly changing landscape.


Putting OKRs Into Action

Every OKR has two components: the target objective and key results. As you begin creating your OKRs, it is helpful to follow a repeatable process. For example, let’s translate our "most innovative brokerage" into actionable steps:

  1. Collaborative Brainstorming: Gather key stakeholders from different departments to ensure alignment and diverse perspectives. Discuss industry trends, customer needs, and internal strengths.

  2. Objective Crafting: Formulate your ambitious objective using a concise, impactful statement that captures your desired outcome. Remember, it should be both inspiring and challenging, such as “To become the most innovative brokerage as defined by our colleagues and peers.”

  3. Prioritize and Focus: Select 2-4 Key Results to avoid spreading yourself thin. Choose metrics that are SMART and directly contribute to your Objective. An example could be “Implement a fully automated underwriting process using AI technology, resulting in a 20% reduction in processing time by Q3.”

  4. Clarity Cascade: Break down each Key Result into actionable initiatives owned by specific teams. Ensure everyone understands their role in achieving the overall goal.

  5. Transparency & Communication: There is tremendous value in transparency and sharing your OKRs companywide. Promote open communication and encourage feedback throughout the journey.

Like any goal-setting session, it can be easy to stray off course. As you develop your objective and surround it with your key results, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Balance Ambition & Realism: While stretching your limits, ensure Key Results are achievable with focused effort.
  • Quality over Quantity: Don't get bogged down by too many Key Results. Prioritize impact over sheer number.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Base your Key Results on reliable data sources to track progress accurately.

By following these steps and keeping these guiding principles in mind, you'll transform your OKRs from a map on paper to a dynamic guide path your brokerage can follow toward successful digital transformation.


Leverage Quality Data to Power OKRs Today and Beyond 

If there is one constant in digitizing a business, it is maintaining data integrity. High-quality data is the fuel that propels your OKR engine. Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to misleading metrics and hinder progress. This is where integration and automation come to the rescue. Streamlining data collection and analysis ensures your key results are based on reliable, real-time information. 

Fast forward to when having instant insights into customer satisfaction on your new mobile app can enable you to make data-driven decisions for further coverage improvements. Or imagine the power of up-to-the-minute underwriting data to find the best markets for prospective customers. Such tools empower agile adjustments to your OKRs, keeping you on course to reach your "treasure."

By no means are OKRs a magic bullet, but they offer a powerful framework for navigating the digital transformation journey. When you set ambitious objectives, establish measurable key results, and leverage data-driven insights, your brokerage can unlock innovation, achieve operational excellence, and ultimately outpace the competition. 

There is no time like the present. So, set sail with OKRs as your compass and begin charting your course toward a successful, innovative future. And if you’d like to learn more about how Highwing helps digitally empower brokers and carriers for the future of commercial insurance, connect with us today. We would love to chat with you.

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