A new model of business and leadership is needed: Lessons from one of the UK’s best companies to work for – Interview with Jason Stockwood

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Today’s interview is with Jason Stockwood, Group CEO of Simply Business, the UK’s leading B2B insurance broker and among the Tech Track 100 of the nation’s fastest-growing tech companies. He has also just published a new book: Reboot: A Blueprint for Happy, Human Business in the Digital Age, which aims to counter much of the news that predicts the massively negative effect that Artificial Intelligence and automation will have on jobs and shows how any organisation can think freshly and benefit from technology by putting its people first. Jason joins ne today to talk about the book, Simply Business, the challenges that businesses and society are facing and what we should be doing about them.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Most of customer experience is cleaning and sweeping – Interview with Gerry McGovern – and is number 278 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my interview with Jason:

  • I spoke to Fiona McSwein of Simply Business back in Dec 2015 about “What it takes to build an award winning and customer centric culture.”
  • A couple of things led Jason to write this book.
    • One, irritation at the dystopian sort of view that is being peddled by much of the research that is being released that focuses on the potentially highly negative impact that artificial intelligence and automation will have on jobs and that no counter view is being presented.
    • Two, that we don’t seem to be making progress or learning the lessons from a number of mistakes that have been made in recent years. That is not the model of business that Jason wants to build and wants to work in.
  • Therefore, based on Jason’s own exploration of these challenges, the story of Simply Business and the success that they have achieved, the book offers an alternative view.
  • It’s important to note here that Simply Business is the UK’s leading B2B insurance broker and is among the Tech Track 100 of the nation’s fastest-growing tech companies. It has also been twice recognised by The Sunday Times as the UK’s best company to work for.
  • They were acquired by the US insurance group Travelers in 2017 for $490m and have since been accredited as a B Corporation. One of over 2,000 companies worldwide that are committing to redefining how business measures success, with higher standards of social and environmental impact.
  • Jason believes that it’s important for us to think deeply and be deliberate about how we harness the benefits of technology.
  • That’s about making deliberate choices about what we want and what we don’t want.
  • Technology itself is not problematic.
  • So, the challenge is how do we take the benefits of technology and the opportunities for wealth creation but, at the same time, how do we enhance our humanity.
  • Right now, however, it feels like that in politics and business we are off-track and we need a reboot.
  • The predominant model that is focused on the pursuit of shareholder value, above all else, is broken and we need to find a model that is about more than shareholder value and one that enhances the agency of business to affect border social and environmental change.
  • The House Of Commons library states that 1 percent of the population will control about 64 percent of global wealth by 2030.
  • There was a Stanford study that said if you’re 30 years old today you are only 50 percent likely to be better off than your parents. That has reversed the trend, where from the 1940s onwards, people were between 80 and 90 percent more like to better off than their parents.
  • A lot of this is rooted in Taylorism, scientific management and production line economics writ large and gone too far.
  • These models took us so far in the 20th century but are no longer suitable for the complexity of the 21st century.
  • We also need a new model of leadership.
  • Leadership needs to embrace systemized thinking.
  • Emergent systems of leadership will require less control.
  • We need to make decisions in organisations as close to the customers and the problems as possible.
  • Build an environment where people can experiment, express themselves, be themselves and do their best work and without recrimination.
  • But, whilst organisations also need to be transparent, leaders also need to hold onto their own ‘burdens’.
  • We need to change our orientation from just focusing on learning from our mistakes, understanding them and minimising them to one that allows us to focus on winning as well.
  • That means building an experimental culture. But, that doesn’t mean people can be wrong all of the time. To minimise that, Simply Business hire the best people they can.
  • That also means hiring as diverse a set of voices as possible.
  • It’s staggering to Jason that many people are just sort of waking up to the idea of the benefits of diversity. Not just as a moral imperative but in terms of the health of your business.
  • Jason hopes that leaders and firms will embrace technology with a view to not just to line the pockets of the few but to use it to enhance the whole of humanity.
  • Check out and grab a copy of Jason’s book: Reboot: A Blueprint for Happy, Human Business in the Digital Age.
  • He’s also keen to start a discussion and debate about some of the topics in the book so reach out to him on Twitter @jstockwood.

About Jason

Jason StockwoodJason Stockwood is Group CEO of Simply Business, twice recognised by The Sunday Times as the UK’s best company to work for, and himself awarded the accolade of best leader in 2016.

Simply Business is the UK’s leading B2B insurance broker and is among the Tech Track 100 of the nation’s fastest-growing tech companies. It was acquired by the US insurance group Travelers in 2017 for $490m and has recently been accredited as a B Corporation, one of over 2,000 companies worldwide that are committing to redefining how business measures success, with higher standards of social and environmental impact.

An experienced leader of technology businesses, Jason has previously held leadership roles at lastminute.com, match.com, Skyscanner and Travelocity. Following the recent acquisition, he sits on the management board of Travelers, an S&P500 company employing over 30,000 people, advising them on business transformation through technology.

Grab a copy of Jason’s book: Reboot: A Blueprint for Happy, Human Business in the Digital Age, check out the work that Simply Business do, say Hi to Jason and the folks at Simply Business on Twitter @jstockwood and @simplybusiness and, finally, connect with Jason at LinkedIn here.

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Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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