We’re now living a new normal. Through this unprecedented crisis, the commitments we make to our team members, customers and partners have taken on a whole new meaning. Compassion and empathy are needed to complement innovation and creativity. We at Blackboard are doing our best to practice social distancing and flatten the curve to save lives and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.   

Everyone talks about the importance of creating the right “business strategy.” But when you create a new way of doing business — AND build an organization from scratch — culture eats strategy for lunch. Even in today’s work-from-home model, our culture continues to be Blackboard’s driving force. 

When we started Blackboard Insurance, we knew we needed our culture to truly reflect our values and behaviors and create a unique environment that fosters creativity, innovation and inclusiveness. We had to establish norms and standards to influence and guide every aspect of our business — from the way we work and interact, to how we solve problems and achieve goals together, to the physical environment in which we work. 

At Blackboard, our mission is to help our customers realize their full potential through the power of data insights, technology and expertise.

Culture is woven into everything we do and is manifested in:

  • The mindset we have when we come to work every morning
  • How people treat each other
  • The physical or virtual environment the team creates
  • The way we interact with each other, our customers and our partners
  • How we work together, take action and make informed decisions

Blackboard Insurance is revolutionizing the entire insurance experience from end to end. Our strategic team is consciously engaged in listening and shaping a culture of commitment to bring the Blackboard experience to life. We realized from day one that we needed to build a culture that embraces innovation and inclusivity. We wanted to create an environment that fostered openness, collaboration and agility — and rewarded passion, creativity and a can-do attitude.

Hire and groom the right talent

From the beginning, we strived to build a team of people with a can-do mindset, all pushing toward a united vision. We hired people who are committed to changing the industry through fresh ideas and innovation. People who dare to be champions of change in an industry that traditionally has been slow to adapt. 

Having the right skills was the table stakes, so we sought team members who are open to constantly learning from others. People who leave their egos at the door. People who are humble enough to admit what they don’t know and willing to learn from each other — but can also be teachers and share their expertise with colleagues. Could an underwriter teach how she thinks about risk? Could an engineer help an underwriter solve a problem? We wanted underwriters learning from tech specialists, data scientists listening to brokers.

Nurture collaboration

One way we bring our people together is through mission-based teams. At Blackboard, there are no silos. No boundaries. We want people from all parts of the business — distribution, operations, finance, product, technology, legal — to collaborate and solve a specific problem, such as customer billing or prioritizing the backlog. We move projects forward as a cross-disciplinary team.

Collaboration is also the basis for how we communicate and build relationships with our brokers. Because we’re a new carrier in a new market, building trust is critically important. That’s why openness and transparency are essential. We need to be clear about what we offer now and down the road. What’s in our appetite now and in the future. That’s why data insights and building an efficient and agile process are so central to our value proposition and to serving our customers.

Leverage data to take risks

Daring to change means daring to make mistakes and course-correct along the way. That takes a “test and learn” mentality. At Blackboard, data is gold – and so is curiosity. Even if things don’t go as planned, we use the data learned from trial to move forward, adapting for the next time. If we encounter a problem, we get creative and find out how to solve it together. We are a driven culture. We’re not afraid to build something from scratch if that’s what’s needed. We understand priorities and know how to execute against them. We question ourselves. Not knowing is OK as long as we acknowledge it and do the research to find the answer . We’re transparent, and that leads to innovation.

Value new ideas and creativity

Fresh thinking is encouraged at Blackboard. We host weekly standup meetings to update our team on progress and provide an opportunity for team members to share what they’re doing, challenges they’re facing and new ideas. We also organize “lunch and learn” sessions — and meetings where team leaders talk about new trends or business updates. In these meetings, we can share the ways we’ve solved similar challenges. 

Promote inclusivity

One major step we’ve taken this year is to create an Inclusion and Belonging Committee. We’re dedicated to making everyone feel like a vital member of the Blackboard team. It’s how we recognize what makes each of us unique and celebrate our achievements and successes together. The Committee will be planning educational and celebratory events throughout the year, from Black History Month to Women’s History Month to LGBTQ+ Pride Month, as well as birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones. Bespoke stickers commemorate company achievements and passions are throughout the office and on our laptops. Each sticker represents something special — such as the launch of our technology platform, umbrella coverage going live, or Blackboard company pride.  

Foster an open, agile and innovative environment

In our non-hierarchical team environment, every team member’s input is valued. We encourage engagement, collaboration and curiosity. We stay connected as a team, whether in our open office space or working remotely. We are all accountable to ourselves and each other. And we fail or succeed together and are driven to change the industry for the better. One step, one project, one innovation at a time — we’re doing it together.

Today, because of COVID-19, we are all working remotely, but nothing has changed the way we collaborate and foster inclusivity. Join our team! Learn how our culture of openness, agility and innovation is helping businesses now and preparing them for the future.