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Benefits Selling expo speaker

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Make sure to attend Marty Traynor's Innovation Track session,“Asking the Right Questions,” April 18 at 1:30 p.m.

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We all love to know what's around the next corner. We may likemysteries, but it's knowing the solution that we love. We lovemovies like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” where we constantly wonderhow Indy will get out of the next jam. And then there's the joy oftraveling to a new place. Travel piques the mind. Walking a newcity is an adventure and there is delight in personally visiting alandmark, in seeing it yourself.

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We are curious beings and our curiosity drives imagination andprogress.

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But unfocused curiosity is not enough. Let's say you are in anew city and start walking from your hotel. You could pass a blockaway from an awesome sight and miss it because you failed to directyour curiosity by asking questions. By asking the right questions,you are likely to maximize your experience.

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There is an art to asking the right questions. In businessissues, we often take the easy answer and run with it, missing outon the next level answers that get to the best solution. Let'simagine for a moment that someone designing the iPhone had notasked, “If we leave on the photo flash, wouldn't the phone make agreat flashlight?” How would we read the menus in all those darkrestaurants?

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Stepping back into our world, things are becoming more complexevery day. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continuesto be a gift that keeps giving. PPACA compliance has become ahuge concern for employers, and the Cadillac tax still looms,though delayed. Voluntary benefits continue to proliferate andevolve. Compliance tracking requirestechnology. Considering technology, PPACA also brought new ways todistribute benefits to the table, in the form of exchanges.Wellness packaging is expanding beyond weight loss and smokingcessation into lifestyle management, tracking tools and muchmore.

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We cannot take anything for granted about our business. Newentrants view our business as being ripe for disruption. This istrue of both the product manufacturing and distribution side of thebusiness. A quick look into the success of Zenefits tells us ourcustomers are ready to listen to a new story.

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Given all this, we need to think clearly to discover how we canbest help our customers via our products and services. We need tothink like the Apple engineers who discovered a flashlight inside acamera inside a cell phone. At the same time, we need to fall intothe trap of improving current products and services in a directiondifferent from desires of our customers (the classic, as my friendDale Alexander observes, is “improving the shelves in a Blockbusterfranchise while Netflix is the next idea”). In the terrificbusiness book, “Seven Practices of Effective Ministry,” AndyStanley wrote, “Listen to outsiders. The needs and interests ofinsiders have a tendency to determine the agenda for theorganization. Focus your efforts on those you're trying to reach,rather than those you're trying to keep.”

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At the Expo this year, we will discuss the art of thinkingdeeper and asking the right questions. We will go over someexamples of innovations fueled by inquiry. We will think a bitabout the issues facing our business and our customers. Of course,I'll have a few questions for you — and I'm sure you will have afew for me, as well!

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