The Silent Asset: How Companies Can Leverage Institutional Knowledge From Highly Experienced Staff

Why You Should Read This:

  • Most insurance organizations have highly experienced & tenured staff
  • In areas such as claims and underwriting, these people have developed an innate wisdom that drives their success
  • That wisdom is often NOT documented anywhere – much of it is instinctual.
  • This article focuses on how to retain that knowledge and use technology to capture, manage and share that knowledge across your organization.

Greta The Super Underwriter

Greta is the affectionate term we use to describe that one super-productive employee. The problem with Greta is NOT Greta. The problem is that what Greta knows is not documented. In this article Greta is an Underwriter, and the even bigger problem we often see, is that even Greta is not fully aware of exactly how she does it. Her decades of wisdom is ingrained in her mind and has become instinctual.

Greta produces great results. She has a large network, she is able to build a steady pipeline of activity in all market types. She knows how to maintain that pipeline even when she needs to say no a lot! Brokers & agents count on her to be a source of knowledge. But there is something more. Greta can look at a submission file and knows within minutes whether this is something that is an immediate decline or something to look into further. She can tell by looking at the submission, whether it has the exposure characteristics that will fit the companies guidelines, well before the assistants tear it apart. She can tell an agent over the phone whether what she is hearing fits into her wheelhouse before even seeing the submission.

What an incredible asset to have in an organization.

So where does that leave your company, if Greta retires?

Yes, the asset is gone.

Worse, if she walks out the door to a competitor, that knowledge is now working against you.

And as much as you must do everything you can to prevent that scenario from arising, you must do more. That institutional knowledge that Greta has must be documented and made available to the rest of the team.

What are some ways to engage with your Greta(s) in order to capture and leverage that wisdom? Here are some ideas:

  • Leverage analytics to identify recurring questions where knowledge is not documented. Find those knowledge gaps and work to bridge them
  • Implement job shadowing or mentoring programs where less experienced employees can learn directly from the expert.
    • Ideally, with Greta on board, can she teach what she knows to a group of underwriters?
    • Can she teach other senior underwriters or executive staff?
  • Encourage the experienced employee to document their knowledge and experiences in a structured and accessible format.
    • This will not be easy to do. Greta is a very productive employee. Probably has quotas to hit and is busy hitting them. Make it as easy as possible for her to document when she recognizes an instinctual pattern. Use the next bullet point to execute on this.
  • Leverage technologies such as AI or machine learning to capture and analyze behaviors and decision-making processes.
    • This is more than just throwing ChatGPT into the process. These technologies must be congruent with your business, the language that you use, and it also needs to be constantly trained.
    • This should be applied to email, messaging tools, documentation, workflows. If a submission is declined, make sure the reasons are clarified, so that your models can pick up on that over time. For business that is quoted, again, clarify in more detail the workflow, so the models can detect the patterns over time. For business that is won, why was it won? The more you can clarify your workflow processes, the better you can train models to detect the patterns, trends and other useful information hiding in there.
  • Organize regular team meetings or workshops where the experienced employee can share their insights and wisdom with the rest of the team.
    • Implement a dedicated time during these meetings for Greta to present on a particular topic or share specific insights
      • This can be a recurring agenda item where she is given the chance to highlight key takeaways from her work or recent experiences.
      • It provides an opportunity for others to ask questions and engage in a meaningful discussion around the topic.
      • It also encourages a culture of shared learning and fosters a deeper understanding of her unique skill-set within the team.

SUMMARY

Experienced personnel like Greta are invaluable assets in any organization. The institutional knowledge they possess can be a goldmine if properly harnessed. This knowledge can be documented through structured interviews, job shadowing, mentoring programs, and regular team meetings. Additionally, the use of technology such as AI and machine learning can help to capture and analyze this knowledge. The ultimate goal is to ensure that this knowledge is not lost but shared and utilized across the organization to improve overall performance. Make it a real asset!

Author

    by
  • Nick Lamparelli

    Nick Lamparelli is a 20+ year veteran of the insurance wars. He has a unique vantage point on the insurance industry. From selling home & auto insurance, helping companies with commercial insurance, to being an underwriter with an excess & surplus lines wholesaler to catastrophe modeling Nick has wide experience in the industry. Over past 10 years, Nick has been focused on the insurance analytics of natural catastrophes and big data. Nick serves as our Chief Evangelist.

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About Nick Lamparelli

Nick Lamparelli is a 20+ year veteran of the insurance wars. He has a unique vantage point on the insurance industry. From selling home & auto insurance, helping companies with commercial insurance, to being an underwriter with an excess & surplus lines wholesaler to catastrophe modeling Nick has wide experience in the industry. Over past 10 years, Nick has been focused on the insurance analytics of natural catastrophes and big data. Nick serves as our Chief Evangelist.

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