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Behind the Scenes: A Week Inside Cookhouse Lab

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 31, 2017 4:27:31 PM / by Jenny Zhang

Jenny Zhang

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At Cookhouse Lab, we believe that innovation is created at its best through an open collaborative model with peers, partners, and start-ups in the insurance industry. This methodology combined with a global and diverse team of insurance and functional experts, ensures that every day at the lab is a new and meaningful experience for all our members.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with both of our Innovation Chefs, Rhiannon Snell and Jason Yu to get the inside scoop on life inside the lab. Keep reading to find out more! 

Tell us about the environment of Cookhouse Lab.

Rhiannon: At Cookhouse Lab, we offer an intimate environment which provides a unique opportunity for members to co-create with their industry peers. This type of setting allows for better collaboration where members can co-create products and derive new opportunities.

Jason: Another aspect of our environment is our promotion of rapid prototyping. In this space, people can continuously build and test throughout the duration of the project. Even if you are able to innovate within your own company, our co-creation environment brings out more perspectives, and consequently, accelerates the outputs and efficiencies of industry projects.

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How does this environment differ from a corporate one?

Rhiannon: Sometimes working within one organization can unknowingly silo employees, which in turn means that business opportunities are missed. I think that there’s a lot that big corporations can learn from start-ups, but there is a communication breakdown between these organizations. At Cookhouse Lab, we aim to bridge that divide.

Jason: There can also be a big learning curve for members in terms of job function. At their companies, many members have safe and defined roles, whereas working on a smaller innovation team here ensures that members will have to participate in various capacities.

Rhiannon: We get people from accounting, system architecture, claims, actuaries, underwriting (just to name a few) and they blow each other’s minds!

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What kind of activities can you expect to parktake in during a project?

Jason: We do a daily huddle in the mornings and by the Friday of every week we review the progress of our weekly goals. In terms of activities, we run design thinking exercises that depend on the phase of the project. For example, one that we typically run at the beginning of the project is the customer journey mapping exercise.

For this exercise, the entire team gets together and jointly maps out the process in question. Within this process, pain points and opportunities are identified. This is where co-creation comes in, because different organizations will have different ideas on both of those fronts. Even more specifically, different departments within these organizations will have differing ideas.

Rhiannon: Another activity that we run is called Crazy 8’s, where we have the team create eight concepts in eight minutes, no matter how wild they are. The point of this exercise is not to come up with the ideal solution to the problem that we’re trying to address – but rather to rapidly flush out attributes of potential solutions that we may want to explore.

Tell us about the social aspects of innovating at Cookhouse Lab.

Rhiannon: We’re very conscious of the fact that when people start, it can be the first time they’ve met anyone on the project. At the beginning stages of the project, we do team building exercises, and we get people to develop a team logo and name. We find that this helps build a sense of community.

During challenging stretches of projects where lots of work needs to be done in a short amount of time, high pressure situations do exist. In these situations, the social aspect becomes even more important, as the innovation process flows a lot more smoothly when people get along. It’s also good in general when people care for one another.

Jason: We also recognize that this is a huge networking opportunity, so we really put in the effort to organizing social outings like casual drinks and dinner. Some of the more unique outings we’ve organized include escape rooms, shuffleboard, and comedy nights.

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What are some of your favourite things about Cookhouse Lab?

Rhiannon: I really enjoy meeting people and watching people go through the design thinking process. In the first six months, we've had nearly a hundred participants experience Cookhouse Lab! At the beginning of every project, people can be confused as to what the innovation process really is. And at the end, people want to keep doing it and want to figure out how to take it back to their job.

Jason: For me, it’s being able to demonstrate efficient ways to accomplish tasks, and achieve goals and seeing the astonishment on members' faces when we achieve goals that we set out to achieve. Ultimately though, it’s really about the entire experience.

Also, the plants. These plants are real!

Since opening our doors in February 2017, we've completed five innovation projects with many exciting ones starting in the rest of 2017 - including our first pop-ups in the Netherlands and Germany

Interested in becoming a part of the Cookhouse Lab innovation community?

Check out our upcoming projects


Topics: cookhouse lab

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