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Conference session

The future of mutuality

ICMIF Biennial Conference 2019 session

The world is rapidly evolving, disrupting existing structures and institutions but also enabling extraordinary new possibilities. Technology is changing the nature of customer relationships and enabling new business models. Value is now generated across ecosystems rather than within companies and this shift opens up a wealth of opportunities for mutuals and cooperatives, given their values, depth of community engagement, and focus on sustainability. Powerful and effective leadership is required to innovate and evolve in order to keep ahead of these shifts and help bring mutual value creation to the very centre of global business and society.

Value creation is collaborative

There are more than a billion people that are members of cooperatives and mutuals globally. Around three million of these are businesses. The cooperative/mutual sector is the only global movement that has agreed principles to help guide collaboration and, as Ross Dawson has stated, we know that business success in the post-capitalistic world will depend more and more on working with communities and other businesses to deliver lasting value. But, are mutuals collaborating successfully within the movement? Why are mutuals not collaborating more outside of their organisations? What is the business case for more external collaboration?

One of the barriers to collaboration can be the integration of new technology, other services and platforms. There is a need to challenge the engrained thought-processes and cultures which exist to allow a more flexible and agile operating model.

Mutual differentiators are under threat

The pressure on businesses to act in a more balanced, transparent and social conscious way has forced shareholder-owned companies to change and this has made them stronger and more competitive. The new world could be more challenging for cooperatives and mutuals as their unique positioning of being values-based and purpose-driven is eroded away.

Using customer trust and the proximity to policyholders can be leveraged better by the sector. Clearer communication regarding product coverage, better operational performance and striving for excellence, and effective and ethical use of data in a transparent and collaborative way can become the mutual differentiators for the new world.

Public understanding or interest in mutuals is still low. The sector needs to shout about the great things it does and the knowledge that it freely shares with communities and society. Going forward, mutual and cooperative businesses need to move faster to take advantages of opportunities.

Encouraging tomorrow’s leaders to work for a mutual

Do millennials understand or even care about mutuality? Mutuals need to engage the next generation by putting enough trust in them to allow them to flourish, and help encourage them to shape the future as leaders of tomorrow.

Session panellists:

  • Melina Morrison, CEO, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (Australia) 
  • Hilde Vernaillen, Chair, ICMIF and Chair of the Management Committee, P&V Group (Belgium)
  • Chris Black, Chief Executive, FMG (New Zealand)
  • Jackelyn Ballena, Vice President for Operations – Life Division, 1CISP (Philippines) 
  • Ross Dawson, Futurist and Chairman, Future Exploration Network (Australia)
  • Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive, ICMIF, moderator

More information

If you would like more information on the topic or case studies presented above, please contact us. We are here to make tailored introductions to your fellow ICMIF members and we can also share other member-only resources with you based on your specific challenges and interests.

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