On a recent Voice of Insurance podcast John Neal described the upcoming unveiling of Lloyd’s second transformational plan, Blueprint Two, as the moment where “the rubber hits the road” and where market transformation would get real.
He promised a revolution.
Revolutions need a road to travel on.
Mao Zedong wouldn’t have embarked on a long march on a dirt track in the woods – that would just have been a long hike, probably to oblivion.
Roads provide the capacity to transport and supply swelling armies and most importantly, they lead to key places where the resources and the big strategic prizes are located.
Every general since before the Romans has known this. High quality roads have always been the key infrastructure investment of the successful conqueror.
John Neal realises this too. His Lloyd’s revolution needs some road to run on.
Despite its title, Blueprint One still read like a really big consultation. It was so full of big ideas that it was difficult to see how and in what order they might be executed.
In revolutionary terms Blueprint One was like the Estates General that began the process that eventually set the French Revolution in train.
Blueprint Two is more the swearing of the Tennis Court Oath where some delegates break off and make a declaration, setting up a clear rupture with the old ways of doing things.
Only after this can the storming of the Bastille and the real revolutionary change come.
Blueprint Two is not the point where the rubber hits the road, it is the unveiling of a plan for the construction of the road itself. The rubber, and the fast-moving vehicles will come later.
But that is not a criticism.
The defining characteristic of revolutionaries is that they have an incredibly clear plan. They come armed, sometimes literally, with a new rulebook. They have absolutely no doubts.
As with revolutionaries, so with roadbuilders. Both need to have a precise idea of where they are going and the exact route they are going to take to get there.
Just as revolutions have always relied on substantial groundwork from intellectuals, often generations in advance, a road is only built after extensive surveying has been carried out.
Such major undertakings never happen by accident.
You don’t just wake up one day and start building a road on a whim.
But us UK citizens have never really gone in for revolutions. We don’t like being told what to do.
We prefer the freedom to roam to the prescriptive route map of a written constitution. But while we are unburdened by ideology we are also naturally conservative. We tend to value creative compromise and improvisation over dogma. We like our change to be incremental.
It can therefore be no surprise that the Lloyd’s and London Market’s piecemeal, very British, development to date has allowed many slightly crazy things to evolve.
No-one of sound mind would ever have designed the processes that London has grown into.
Only in such an unplanned world could the surreal triumph to such a degree.
We quote, we place, we confirm cover, we pay premiums and we collect claims. In that order.
Who other than Salvador Dalí could have imagined that claims and premiums would have been digitised before placement? This would never have happened in France or China!
But with Blueprint Two Lloyd’s now has a crystal-clear, centralised plan for change and it is a solid one.
The hard core of this road is going to be a bulletproof, irrefutable set of data standards that everyone can get behind and which the whole world can adopt if it chooses.
This road joins up the key destinations in the fastest possible route. It does things in the right order.
For the first time the London Market has a plan for ultra-rapid straight-through processing that only a surrealist could argue with.
The really complex bits can come later, for without this core infrastructure nothing lasting or valuable could or indeed should be built.
This road is also being built very quickly. The Soviets liked to give themselves five years for their plans to bed in and work through, this one is a lightning-fast two years.
Once its core data standards are agreed the planning of the shiny data palaces and lakes to be built along the route can begin in earnest.
All over Europe and the Middle East we still travel on roads originally laid out by the great empires and early civilisations.
Blueprint Two is a genuinely revolutionary plan and its projected billion-dollar savings are conservative.
It’s time to overcome our natural inertia, join John’s revolution and storm the digital barricades.
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