Canadian Underwriter

Steering change

May 17, 2018   by Kris Hackney, Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, Applied Systems

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Brokerages today must evolve their business operations and adopt technology to keep pace with consumer demands. But adopting the latest innovation requires change and, there’s no way around it, change can sometimes be difficult. Large or small, changes must be managed with strategy and proper direction. About 70% of all change initiatives fail because of inadequate planning. Don’t let your business fall in that majority.

Why do so many change initiatives fail?

Many leaders fail to recognize that change takes time. Instead of preparing their culture for change, they simply jump right into it. About a week later, they realize (too late) that they should have spent more time preparing their culture because they don’t have any support. You can change technologies very quickly in the right circumstances. But altering the way employees think about their roles, the business, and your culture doesn’t happen overnight. The time required to transform hearts and minds must be built into your change management plan.

Key principles to change management

Change management is the discipline of leading individuals, teams and entire organizations through organizational change through a combination of behavioral and social sciences, information technology, and business solutions. By understanding the basic phases of change and valuing your staff, you can prepare your culture for change and avoid common pitfalls of failed change efforts.



The people in your organization are a crucial element of change management success. People must acknowledge and buy into the need to change at the most basic level. Once buy-in is established, employee engagement at each stage needs to be closely monitored to address any resistance and create a shared sense of urgency for change. Continual, transparent communications will foster listening and provide a sounding board for issues and concerns. To help create a more receptive environment, include employees in the planning process then clearly define goals, roles, and processes.

Kris Hackney, Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, Applied Systems


Processes detail how the work gets done, providing a plan for introducing and systemizing your technology strategy. Risk can be managed by putting in place a robust governance structure, in which processes are documented to establish a foundation for ongoing growth. Finally, processes should be continuously updated based on best practices and lessons learned.


Technology investment must encompass all aspects of your business, from managing internal staff to connecting to customers and insurer partners. It must integrate all applications to deliver a consistent user experience and create a single view of your business. Brokerages will not succeed managing separate, disparate systems that create multiple sources of data. When selecting a technology right for your business, consider a technology that is flexible and scalable to support current and future growth.

In too many situations, change within an organization results in a significant amount of wasted time and unnecessary anguish. Useful change tends to be associated with a multi-step process that creates power and motivation. It requires dedication and must be driven by high-quality leadership who demonstrate commitment to its success. Rewards for organizations that successfully manage their change efforts include improved competitive standing and a solid foundation for building a far better future.


Kris Hackney, Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, Applied Systems


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