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Insuring tomorrow through future thinking and innovation.

 

Collaborating with Northwestern Mutual Insurance to develop and foster future thinking in the C-Suite, enabling them to anticipate future world needs to translate it to future offerings.

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Designing strategies and tools to help foster future thinking within the C-suite

The IIT Institute of Design, an influential and pioneering institution in the realm of design education, has spent over 85 years dedicated to fostering innovation, shaping design history, and inspiring creative minds. Its commitment to human-centered design and a rich legacy of transformative narratives make it a beacon of excellence in design education.

Project Team

Meghna Prakash
Sujith Samuel
Masaya Tezuka
Camile Martinez

Duration

August 2022 - December 2022
 

My contributions

Trend analysis, Creating case studies, Innovation planning, Prototyping
 

Challenge

Help the C-Suite to proactively anticipate  future needs for the coming decade, enabling them to make informed resource investments for long-term value and innovation

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Over a 12-week period, our team worked on this project, primarily focused on assisting the innovation wing with goal to cultivate out-of-the-box thinking and anticipate future demands by analyzing the current and future insurance as well as risk landscape and providing strategic guidance. This guidance aimed to help the company make informed resource investments for long-term value.

Strategy

Develop tools for the organization to help them envision possible futures of the coming decades

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Our approach began with a thorough exploration of the insurance and risk landscape, tracing its historical evolution. Subsequently, we conducted an analysis to identify emerging players in the market, including both rapidly growing companies and unconventional entrants.

During this initial phase, we crafted over 12 case studies and performed trend analysis, encompassing emerging political, technological, and economic developments. We employed techniques such as the abstraction ladder and era analysis to identify discontinuities in the insurance landscape. Our overarching goal was to construct a visual representation of the insurance industry's evolution, allowing us to extrapolate insights into the future of insurance. This foundational work laid the groundwork for the development of our final solution.

Outcome

A future casting tool kit with a future trend database that can be evolved

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As a result of our efforts, we developed a Future Casting Toolkit designed for internal use within the organization. This toolkit enables the creation of scenarios and is complemented by an exercise that facilitates backcasting. The backcasting exercise helps determine the necessary actions across technology, business, and service domains to attain the desired future state.

Furthermore, our solution encompasses a trend database founded on the PESTLE framework. This database aids in scenario creation by identifying the driving forces and signals of the future.

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Strategy

Develop tools for the organization to help them envision possible futures of the coming decades

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The insurance industry has been a staple of the financial sector for over 150 years, providing security and peace of mind to millions around the world.  A traditional insurance model is a one-size-fits-all approach, with policies that aren't tailored to the specific needs of the modern and future consumer. The success of a 150-year-old insurance company in staying relevant in the future will depend on its ability to forecast disruptions, embrace change and be willing to take risks.

The innovation wing of one of the largest insurance firms in the world wanted to understand how to nourish and facilitate out-of-the-box thinking to anticipate future needs. The proposed solution would empower employees to create solutions/offerings that can address the needs of future worlds with future thinking exercises.

Our approach to addressing this challenge was comprehensive and structured:
 


1. Research Phase:

We initiated our journey with an in-depth research phase encompassing both field research and desk research. This approach allowed us to gain profound insights into how individuals perceive and navigate through narratives.

2. Development of Design Principles:

Following an exhaustive research endeavor spanning over two weeks, we synthesized our findings into a coherent set of design principles. These principles served as invaluable guidelines informing our subsequent creative concepts.

3. Sketching and Concept Phase:

The subsequent phase involved translation of our insights into tangible concepts, starting with the generation of paper sketches and progressing to the development of miniature models. This process was instrumental in shaping the spatial design experience.

4. Prototyping:

To refine and validate our envisioned narrative flow, we dedicated two weeks to the development and iteration of full-scale prototypes. This phase was critical for understanding how to portray the historical narrative as a fluid progression through time. Moreover, it allowed us to assess how our design harmoniously integrated with the architectural context of the building.

5. Building Phase:

Following the prototyping stage, we transitioned into the construction phase, where we brought the entire structure to life over the course of a month. This was followed by meticulous testing and the curation of the narrative content, ensuring a seamless and immersive visitor experience.




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Sketching and ideation phase at action lab along with mockup prototyping.

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Outcome

A future casting tool kit with a future trend database that can be evolved

A future casting toolkit that helps the organization to understand the potential impact of technological, social, and cultural changes, and to create new and innovative solutions that meet the needs of the future. It can help foster thinking around influences that can shape future decades through interactive workshops.  By embracing this toolkit, they can take a proactive approach to future planning and stay ahead of the curve.

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Impact

The opening night of the exhibition was a tremendous success, with attendees raving about the amazing conversation that took place. The positive word of mouth led to a significant influx of visitors during the preview weekend, with over 800 individuals attending the exhibition in just a few days. The high visitorship is a testament to the quality of the exhibition and the appeal of its contents to a wide range of audiences. It is a remarkable achievement and a clear indication of the impact this exhibition is likely to have on the public.

This is an evolving exhibition with the next iteration coming in spring 2023.

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" This is amazing work. You should really be incredibly proud of what you pulled together. This is worth of multi-million dollar project by a big consulting firm" 

- Principal Senior Director, Design  

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