Innovation is a tricky business.
Despite what the buzzword bandits would have you believe, it is extraordinarily difficult to impose innovation - and the attitudes associated with it - on a given environment.
The process is one that is ultimately voluntary and spontaneous.
Take Silicon Valley, the prime example of an “innovative” environment.
There was no particular reason for the tech industry to congregate in the strip of land that runs between San Francisco and San Jose back in the 1970s.
It was a combination of coincidental factors, such as relatively affordable housing, the allure of the Sunshine State and pre-existing tech giants which ultimately created the ingrained ecosystem of investors and entrepreneurs that today dominates the world’s innovation and dictates the culture of invention.
Nobody decreed that it had to happen - it just did.
Fast forward to 2018, and the innovation hawks are everywhere. They stride into the corporate world, buzzword-bibles in hand screeching apocalyptic warnings and attempt to impose an attitude of innovation in a world that can respond poorly to this approach.
All of which makes Lloyd’s latest attempt to nudge its market participants in the direction of technology and innovation in the form of a dedicated “lab” all the more interesting.
Lloyd’s itself as a corporation has proved remarkably resistant to innovation.
My personal theory is that this is because of the very nature of Lloyd’s. It is not so much a corporation or market as it is an institution and - in the peculiarly British interpretation of that concept - it cannot change because that would undermine its fundamental purpose of providing stability for its constituents.
But maybe this is the moment that change will come!
After all, necessity is the mother of invention. There are few who now seriously believe that Lloyd’s can retain its current structure (and attendant cost base) and live to tell the tale as the world around it spins ever faster.
With the (re)insurance world now catching the eye of techies, who are taking more and more notice of the sector and its inefficiencies, Lloyd’s needs innovation now more than ever if it wants to survive.
However, it has a mountain to climb if the Corporation really wants to move the needle on the culture of innovation on Lime Street.
It has taken years to get the most basic of placing platforms even close to workable, and it would be folly to think that providing an environment for testing can close the tech gap in the way that Lloyd’s urgently requires.
Turning lead into gold seems like a wonderful concept when you have the lab set up. Actually performing the alchemy is a different ball game altogether.