Case study

The Co-operative Group:
MVP acceleration


It’s not every day a client asks for six MVPs in just 12 weeks. But that’s what an employee innovation initiative at Co-operative Insurance Services demanded. 

We said: “No problem…” 

The problem

Co-operative Insurance Services (CIS) was going through a major IT transformation programme. 

CIS had been part of the same company as The Co-operative Bank – and shared the same IT infrastructure. But in 2017, the bank became part of a new holding company, while CIS remained a subsidiary of The Co-operative Group. As a result, the insurer had to extract its IT infrastructure from the shared system, and create its own standalone architecture.

The company wanted to use the transformation to unleash the creativity of its 13,000-strong workforce. It saw an opportunity to enhance its digital offering by harnessing the innovation of its loyal and motivated employees. 

Our approach

Our partners at digital consultancy Ninety devised a Dragon’s Den-style innovation competition for CIS. 

Employees were encouraged to propose ways to make life better for customers. 

Staff submitted ideas about how to engage customers on a dedicated intranet site. 

We selected the best six ideas for development. These entailed, for instance, a transparent pricing initiative (see so that CIS customers understand how their investment is structured, and simultaneously reflecting Co-op's values in integrity.

The process

Each of the six winners was allocated an executive sponsor, a budget, and 12 weeks to carry out a feasibility study on their idea. 

The Unit worked with them to hone their ideas, and deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) for testing among CIS customers. 

To make this happen, we worked on each idea as if it was a mini-start-up. Each had its own cross-functional team, which included the employee as ‘CEO’, the executive sponsor, business analysts from CIS, and our UX and UI designers and developers. 

By using lean working methods, and running the six projects in parallel, we created all six MVPs within the competition’s 12-week deadline.

The outcome

The finale of the competition was a ‘playback session’. Our MVPs, and the results of our user testing, were presented to a panel made up of the six executive sponsors. 

The initiative proved a resounding success: all six products were green-lit by CIS for further development. 

They’re now being considered for integration into the firm’s digital offering, once the IT transformation programme is complete.