As part of its intention to equip all staff and financial consultants with a design thinking mindset, the insurer used the Skills Framework to plug skill gaps.
The effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are pervasive.
According to the World Economic Forum, it is a new chapter in development brought about by unprecedented technological advancements.
But rather than fear them, there is an opportunity for society to harness these technologies to create an inclusive, human-centred future.
This impact is felt in every industry, including insurance.
In response to this, Prudential embarked on a transformation journey three years ago.
As part of the transition to a new culture, it developed a purpose statement, “Innovating to help everyone live well”.
Magdalene Loh, Head of Innovation at Prudential Singapore, is part of the leadership team that is working on bringing this purpose to life.
She says that insurance as an industry has been slow to change, until recent times.
Human tendency is to rush in and jump straight into seeking solutions, and that’s why it is so important to have a systematic, disciplined approach to innovation.
“With all the new possibilities that the digital revolution brings, we felt that we had a unique opportunity to design more innovative insurance products and engage our customers better.”
Along the way, Loh and her team leveraged the Skills Framework for Design, jointly launched by the Design Singapore Council, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore to affirm that they were on the right track.
This is a guide to developing a design-empowered workforce, providing useful information such as career pathways, critical work functions, and technical and generic skills and competencies that are required.
Loh explains that Prudential’s journey to instil innovation in its DNA will include training all its 1,200 staff in design thinking.
Prudential will also progressively roll out such training to selected members of its agency force of 5,000.
With technology such an integral tool of the transformation journey, adopting a design thinking mindset is key to the process.
The right frame of mind
To this end, she led the development of the 4I Innovation Framework, which is being rolled out this year through half-day workshops for employees at the insurer.
An abbreviation of the words ideate, implement, impact and inspire, it offers a formal structure for Prudential’s staff and financial consultants, as they work together to come up with new solutions.
“4I gives you a step-by-step process of using a design thinking mindset to solve problems. It has changed the way we approach our work and is a new way of thinking,” shares Loh.
Each step is further broken down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to understand.
For instance, the ideate phase is about investing time in understanding what the real challenge is, as much as it is about ideas generation.
“Sometimes, in fast-paced corporate environments, we don’t pause long enough to really understand the people we are serving or their contexts. Human tendency is to rush in and jump straight into seeking solutions, and that’s why it is so important to have a systematic, disciplined approach to innovation”, explains Loh.
Conceptualising the 4I was the result of amalgamating existing design thinking theories with lessons learnt from the transformation journey.
Help also came from the Skills Framework for Design.
Skills to complement the mindset
As a SkillsFuture Fellowship recipient, awarded in 2019 by SSG, Loh was invited to attend the briefing on the Skills Framework for Design.
An officer from Dsg subsequently met up with her to explore synergies.
“We were quite excited because it gave us a very systematic and organised way to move forward,” she says, after learning how it could complement what she is championing through the 4I.
“I combed through the Skills Framework, extracting parts that were relevant to Prudential’s objectives.”
For instance, she understood from the Skills Framework how the skill of business model innovation was an important sub-speciality of innovation and design thinking.
She therefore introduced it into the 4I, and also included methodologies such as business value proposition mapping that would guide her colleagues in performing business model innovation.
Another way that the Skills Framework was helpful was through validating a hunch that having data literacy would be important to everyone, since it is a fundamental part of innovation and design thinking, and in doing so, would support the 4I.
Data analysis and interpretation, as well as data and information visualisation, are part of the 48 technical skills and competencies listed in the Skills Framework for Design.
Consequently, she says staff are being trained in these areas to “build a data culture and democratise the use of data”, so that everyone has basic knowledge of it.
As testimony that the insurance firm is on the right track so far, Prudential was able to come up with a new insurance plan within just 10 days – instead of over several months – through various teams applying what they have learnt from the training she has been doling out.
Launched on 8 April 2020, the PRUAffinity Personal Accident Plan is targeted at employees of eligible Singapore-based FinTech companies, in support of MAS’ COVID-19 response.
It increases the personal accident coverage for those retrenched from $20,000 to $50,000, and includes Prudential’s PRUCare package, which covers COVID-19 quarantine and hospitalisation benefits.
“Colleagues across the company came together and used design and other business competencies to accelerate the product development and deployment process,” she explains.
“We are an innovative company and we have good people and a strong ecosystem in place already. That’s why we can work quickly with our partners to benefit our customers – it all ties back to how we want to innovate to help everyone live well.”