“I’m worried that you would leave after 6 months – you know, after you had done the disruption” the hiring manager said as she looked up from her notes.
I was half an hour into the interview and for the first time I was at a loss for words (unusual for me as those of you that know me could attest to …..)
I had recently made the decision to rejoin the corporate workforce after discovering during a period of going solo that I really missed working in a team. As a disruptive innovator with a passion for connecting the dots between What? So What? and Now What? I have spent the last 2 years lighting many fires, inspiring teams and igniting ideas across a range of industries (I have a wicked anecdote about running a workshop on “The Future of Technology and Showering” – yes, it’s a thing – ask me about it sometime) but I have a desire to be part of something again and having a legacy to look back on.
I had breezed through the initial interview rounds and was one of the final three candidates to meet the hiring manager. The role was advertised as looking for “disruptive innovators, industry experience desirable but not required” to join a brand new team being formed at a large insurance company. The board had finally recognised that they needed to play catch-up and had signed off on establishing a new department with a decent sized budget to identify opportunities and execute POC’s related to leveraging technology to drive the innovation agenda. Given my previous experience in doing exactly that in financial services, coupled with my recent exposure to the Insuretech startup ecosystem while mentoring at Startupbootcamp, I had spent the previous 30 minutes excitedly outlining current technology trends while linking them to possible areas of exploration for the organisation.
She stared at me, waiting for a response.
“I’m not sure what you mean. Disruption isn’t a ‘one and done’ kind of thing – it’s a continuous process that is only one aspect of the innovation agenda – I’d only be building up a head of steam within 6 months – this is something that will continue for the life of the company!” I replied.
“Ahhh – I don’t think you understand the environment we are working in here – Insurance is a highly regulated industry and it takes a very long time to get anything done. If I just consider the ideas you have already put forward, you would soak up all our resources within the first six months and the pipeline would be full – there would be nothing for you to do for a few years after that” she replied with a smile.
“Yes, I’m very aware of the regulatory environment – it was the same in Financial Services too – but you need to balance the portfolio with a variety of initiatives and you look for opportunities to partner within the ecosystem for experimentation and execution where you can – you need to adopt a startup innovation mindset in order to compete with the new entrants that are disrupting your industry from the outside – rapid innovation with a ‘fail fast / win fast / iterate, iterate, iterate’ approach. Your internal and external customers have exponential expectations which you will constantly need to meet to remain relevant” I countered.
“I don’t think the organisation is ready for that just yet” she said with a resigned sigh, bringing the interview to a close.
I received a call from human resources the following week – they had appointed a “safe” candidate with insurance industry experience.
I have an appetite for disruption