Meet Mark Lange
As Arch marks its 20th year, I reflect on what has made us great, and how we can continue to be excellent at what we do – how we can Pursue Better Together. Arch Insurance is a unique combination of approximately 15 autonomous business units, and I see that the commonality among these units that makes up our whole, is the people.
At Arch we have a culture, vision and purpose, and the values and on-the-ground actions that our people personify emanates from this culture, this vision, this purpose.
Looking ahead to the next 20 years, I ask myself, how can we win? As a specialty insurance provider, how can we compete with others? The solutions we provide are very important, as is the experience that we deliver while doing it. Products can be copied; the customer experience cannot.
Insurance protects the things people hold dear: businesses, homes, lives. The way that we can make someone feel as they navigate planning for or experiencing loss of these vital things, is not something that can easily be replicated. It comes from our people, our values and how we demonstrate our values in the work we do.
Pursuing Better Together®
Our people deliver the customer experience, so our starting point is exceptional colleagues.
Pursuing Better Together strengthens our focus on our people by giving intention to something that was always there, so that it can grow and evolve with the company. In Pursuing Better Together, we are giving permission and space for our colleagues to evolve and innovate, and the structure to both explore our values, and to apply them with consistency.
Permission to Be Bold
The most difficult value to implement has been innovation. There are questions around what it means, whose responsibility it is, and if what I think innovation is would be allowed. For example, innovating means being bold, pointing out where long-held practices are not working, or could be done better – challenging the status quo. In Pursuing Better Together, we are giving ourselves and all of our colleagues permission to do this. Rock the boat. Be bold. Challenge. Innovate.
Permission to take risks is core to Pursuing Better Together. We all have the capacity to improve what we do. If we all make small improvements, the results can be monumental. I think of the example of a Tour de France team that examined every tiny part of operating a bicycle and identified hundreds of opportunities to shave a fraction of a second off total time, which resulted in gains that allowed them to win. That same idea motivates us to give everyone permission to be bold. If 2,000 people each identified an opportunity to be more efficient or more thorough in their work, it could make for huge positive changes.
“In Pursuing Better Together, we are giving our colleagues permission to rock the boat, be bold, challenge, innovate.”
Our people are how our company evolves and remains nimble. Insurance has labels of being stodgy and old and boring. Our culture has been able to evolve in part because we are a younger company; by remaining committed to our people and evolving ourselves, we will not lose this as we grow into the next 20 years.
Every two weeks, we bring together colleagues from all levels to interpret and embody a specific value or attribute. This helps bring the value to life and reinforces who we are. We know that the things that make us great are not static, they are evolving, moving, and they help us continually meet our goal of delivering an exceptional experience. Exhibiting these behaviors leads to personal growth and evolves into growth opportunities for both our colleagues and the organization. Our culture enables us to differentiate ourselves, starting internally with our colleagues, which then flows externally to our customers. This is core to our strategy.
The more intentional we are with our culture, the more we will continue to attract the best talent who share these values. Our colleagues, in turn, will continue to innovate and apply new meanings to our values, keeping us nimble to serve our external customers as well as we do our internal colleagues.
When I think about the companies that are role models to me, the commonality is not the product – it’s not a sandwich, it’s not a bed, it’s not a coffee – it’s how customers are treated, the manner in which these companies operationalize all of the little things so that they do them all very well, and it adds up.
Insurance is a product tied deeply to emotions of security, vulnerability and protecting the things we need and love. The customer experience is vital for the quality of work that we do.
Work to Do
All of this is a strong start. Pursuing Better Together is an active phrase, and if we are doing it right, we may never arrive at a point where we are “done.” Presently, I see our next steps and opportunities being continuing to embed our values and culture into our daily work and into existing structures such as performance reviews, new hire onboarding, front line supervisor training programs and so on. We want to immerse ourselves in it always.
All of this might sound like things many other companies say, and it is true that the values are not unique. What makes it different at Arch is how we bring our values to life and the routines and habits that we use to interpret, question and apply the values we hold to different situations.
A challenge is where our existing culture of “getting it done” — a strength itself — can be at odds with this work of examining and applying our culture. The opportunity here lies in intentionally embedding the language and activities into every level of work, so that the dotted line between getting something done and our culture and values is filled in, so that it is not an “either/or” but a “both, and” choice. This is work, and we are and will continue doing it.
This is Pursuing Better Together.
EVP, Strategy & Distribution
Arch Insurance | New York, N.Y.
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