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Organisational Anchors

Anchors are great and essential tools for the sailor, but try to move with one still attached to the seabed and you'll find it impossible to make sensible headway. The challenges of manoeuvring a vessel and putting it to or releasing from anchor and communication in doing so are also definitely a skill to master.

I've been increasingly thinking that this comparison works for start-up benefits vs corporates trying to do new things and be 'innovative'. Could it be true that the real benefit of the many start-ups appearing in the fintech sector, will turn out not to be their funky product, or cool user interfaces, but the fact that they can scale without adding unnecessary overhead of people and process faster than those that have accumulated the cost of heavy organisation and process can shed them??

If we take the analogy, the organisational 'Anchor' is the inherent cost of large numbers of people , buildings, old technology and process, technology being only one of the 'Legacy' issues to deal with despite it often attracting the most attention. This is a huge anchor to pull up, and regardless of how many new funky products we may bring on board, the ship is still held firmly to the 'Seabed' of a high cost base. Getting the message across the organisation about the need to move on can also be a challenge!

Start-ups on the other hand set sail with the technology to scale without massive people costs, have automation, small teams, good communication and inherently low costs. In the end, even if their products are similar to those of the traditional companies, it will be their ability to continue to operate at low cost that may win the day, not the difference in what they are offering the consumer.

So what can you do if your ability to move is being hampered. Well first of all recognise it, if you are just innovating on the poop desk it will be just that, you still won't go anywhere. Secondly think about your innovation strategy in relation to that problem, you can either work out how to pull up the anchor or innovate on a different boat; set you innovative product off in smaller vessels with a smaller crew accepting that when the really bad weather comes the ship at anchor may well suffer the consequences.

Insurance Times Tech Champion of the year 2013 and Celent Model Insurer of the year 2014, Rod Willmott, is our Chief Wzard, and along with the team of skilled innovation professionals has a wealth of practical, and disruptive, insights that will help you nurture your own innovation practice. Contact

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