Thinking adjacent to the box

Photo: Eric Hopkins - BCAA Chief Officer of Strategic Ventures

 

We’ve been told to think outside of the box in corporate settings for so long, it’s likely we’ve forgotten what this now clichéd term means. Efforts to “think outside the box” may result in some serious wincing along with perfunctory brainstorming exercises and workshops to examine strategic priorities, evaluate processes and find efficiencies in current practice.

Enter the mind of an entrepreneurial thinker, who sees a major problem with attempts to refocus problems and solutions to address corporate needs.

“An entrepreneurial mindset is consumer based,” says Eric Hopkins, senior vice president and chief officer of strategic ventures with BCAA. “Applying innovation to an organization requires a shift to solving consumer need rather than corporate need.”

Hopkins is in the interesting position of working for a well-established, financially sound company, in the off-site, strategic ventures arm of the organization. BCAA has a long history of providing insurance products within the province; an industry with a high aversion to risk. While seemingly in contrast with entrepreneurial thinking, Hopkins explains that these two diverse areas provide great mutual benefit: the structure of BCAA provides a wealth of resources for his area to tap into, allowing for greater rigor in business decisions (i.e. basing decisions on fact rather than intuition).

The strategic ventures group developed the Evo car sharing program over the past couple of years. Why would an automobile insurer offer car sharing? Hopkins explains the thinking behind this very successful undertaking, and how Evo became an incredibly profitable venture for BCAA.

“Thinking entrepreneurially, we look at current state, and evaluate what else consumers might need, in a related sense – car repair comes to mind, so that’s an obvious program we can start building out,” says Hopkins. “Then we think in terms of adjacency: what consumer product or service is in the same category – vehicles – but less obvious? Thinking about the different parts of a consumer group, we realized the different relationship that younger generation has with cars, and how a car sharing program would meet a consumer need.”

Seems like thinking out of the box might be too far a reach, while “box adjacent” has an interesting – and consumer focused – potential for success.

Learn more about Eric’s successful strategic ventures with BCAA at the June 28 LeaderLounge, “How to Think like an Entrepreneur” – registration and details at www.leaderlounge.ca.

Sheryl Gray

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