I’m still waiting on approval for the podcast I mentioned last week.  So I can’t link to it just yet, but just as a preview, we spoke about three things:

  1. Our take on 2009 and 2010 and beyond
  2. Product Channel Market Alignment
  3. Freelance project-based workers

I’d like to comment on Product Channel Market Alignment today.  As I listened to my guest talk about these concepts, they seemed to elicit an aha-moment.  And later, as the concept has been circulating in the back of my mind, it’s kind of grown on me and I think it characterizes the life and health insurance space right now.  Further, I think that it is BECAUSE of a huge out-of-alignment situation in the health insurance space that we are in the mess we are in.

So the concept you’ll hear about is that product configurations need to be in alignment with the distribution channel and both of those need to be in alignment with the Market demands and preferences.  Envision an isosceles triangle (equal sides, right?) with Product, Channel, and Market at the three angles.  The company that does the best job of keeping these three dynamics in balance with each other will likely see the best results.  Example: as the distribution channel changes, how does the product need to change?  As market preferences change, how does the distribution channel and/or the product need to change?  When one is out of balance with the other, what happens?

Great example from health care today: In the last several years, consumers have come to expect the ability to self-teach, make decisions, choose, and control – the DIY mentality (in this case buying insurance PRODUCTS, especially via online CHANNELS).  At the same time, with all the C-level and board-room scandals, they’ve also lost a lot of faith in corporate America and as a result, the MARKET can come to demand transparency and authenticity from the companies they do business with.  Meanwhile, insurance companies have not moved far and fast enough to adapt to these changes, causing an out-of-alignment scenario that has been exacerbated through out the last several years.  Thus, when a presidential candidate comes along and speaks about solving that problem (the how is another post), the market jumps at it.  And now we’re all fighting over it, etc. etc.

So in fact, in my humble opinion, insurance companies (really the whole health insurance industry) are sort of now being penalized in a very public and dramatic way because they failed to adust their products (and services), they failed to adapt to the shifting channel preferences (and specifically technologies), and thus got hammered by a huge shift in market demands.

What do you think? Am I out in left field?  Can the health insurance industry salvage itself in 2010 and beyond by making long-overdue changes and get things back in alignment? Take a sec and comment.

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One thing I’m very excited about: Businesses I’ve been speaking to in the last couple weeks are suddenly starting to see the incredible ROI associated with a good corporate Blog strategy.  Having been blogging for 5 years now, I’m SO excited to be telling the story and helping business partners and clients adapt Blogs to their environment, culture, and markets.  Very very cool.  Did you see the movie Julie and Julia?  Did you notice that Julie’s blog was a huge part of the story??? (Here’s her new blog, btw.)  It’s fricking amazing the potential with these things…

Any stories of yours?  Do share..

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Speaking of cooking, one picture to share… I taught my son to cook a favorite meal over the holidays.  I call it Inga’s Chicken TWO!  Long story behind the name, but it’s simple, cheap, and oh so good.  Great job, Zach Wise!  Do it up at Houghton!!!  (And there’s another story about the blue kitchen cupboards that brings a smile…)

Oh yeah – 30 minutes to write this post, 30 min to edit.  Some people have been asking me that question.  Worth the time?  Good use of one hour a week?