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Video presentation

Opportunities for mutual value creation

ICMIF Biennial Conference 2019 presentation

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, social expectations for experience, transparency, sustainability and equity continue to rise, while in the network economy the structure of value creation is shifting to platforms. Value is now generated across ecosystems rather than within companies, and traditional organisations are increasingly recognising and responding to these changes.

This large-scale shift to new models for value creation opens up a wealth of opportunities for mutuals and cooperatives, given their values, depth of community engagement, and focus on sustainability. However, the flipside of this is that we are now living in some of the most challenging of times with an extraordinary pace of change. 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.

Social change is driving technology

We are seeing consistent exponential growth throughout our lives and expecting more and more all the time, including immediacy. This is taking its toll on things like carbon impact and congestion. Expectations for efficiency has driven a demand for artifiical intelligence (AI) which is now exceeding human capabilities.

The desire for sustainability (e.g. renewables) is also driving the development of technology and augmented reality is expected to be the next innovation.

Value creation across ecosystems is now getting more sophisticated

The rise of platforms enable efficient access to products and services by building communities. Consider microfinance which focuses on supporting communities. Cooperatives are now using platforms to help support communities. US-based member-owned insurer USAA employs a huge design team and has a culture of ‘design thinking’ for full member participation in the development of the business.

We are moving into a post-capitalism world

There is desire to measure the major impact of capitalism. How do we account for that? There is a total of USD 400 trillion of capital in the world, and each dollar is seeking to get a financial or social return. There is a need for more transparency.

But, how do we allocate the huge global wealth more fairly? We will be tapping into our human potential to collaborate as a human race to see how each of us can not only better ourselves, but also help to do the same for those around us.

More value creation will be collaborative – this “new world” is perfect for cooperatives and mutuals

Michael Porter’s Shared Value Model is key here. For a number of years, Vitality – a division of South African insurer Discovery – has been using wearable technologies to measure good behaviours relating to health and lifestyle, and then reward the user for reducing their own risk. These opportunities are not just being exploited by cooperatives and mutuals.

Knowledge-based relationships based on trust will also be extremely important. It is essential not to just share information, but to also collaborate with members/customers to help them learn. Similar to USAA, fellow US mutual insurer State Farm has physical spaces where members are able to visit and learn with experts about financial planning.

Many emerging opportunities for mutuals

Companies will have to make a positive impact on society. Success in this area will be based on trust and being values-led. But again, it is not just mutuals who operate in this way. There is an expectation that mutuals should be better than other legal structures in this area. There are opportunities for mutuals to bring more communities together to create more sustainable value.

There must be a culture of experimentation and allowance to “get things wrong”. There are opportunities to leverage the excellent trust that mutuals and cooperatives enjoy with their members/customers to recommend and advise, as opposed to merely manufacture and sell products.


Mutuals can help shape the new world. Leaders must be more flexible than the environment around them. This will require organisations to transform and in order to achieve this, there needs to be a new vision as well as an appreciation of the roadblocks that must be overcome.


Ross Dawson, Futurist and Chairman, Future Exploration Network (Australia)

More information

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