Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Cut-paste and parrot thinking catching up in the private sector – our insurance company

Is the parrot-thinking culture, akin to how we are taught in this pearl of Africa, abound even in the normally more effective and efficient private sector? Looks like it’s, in this particular instance, for our insurance service provider

In an education system where our brain-code is written to follow and bring out only or mostly what we have been taught, it’s not surprising that there is significant cutting and pasting in workplace practices – esp. front-line staffers. Yes, we do, at times unawares, regurgitate illogical stuff that is ultimately reflected in poor service and products. And, after all, all we have to do is “follow” and get paid.

It would be insensitive and disrespectful if we write here that we don’t think, of course, we do, but not always critically. Our thinking is linear, and how can it not be if that is what we are taught, informally at home and formally at school? We, at times, act like photocopy machines. Including us at the Effectiveness lab? Yes, after all, we are also Ugandan and been through the same Ugandan education system.

Photocopiers copy anything that is put inside them as long as there is paper in them, cartridge, and you press the ‘copy’ button. They also scan replica images of whatever is placed in them. The problem is – photocopiers are machines without brains and don’t adjust the response to suit changing circumstances.

The Subaru insurance claim service drama

Today – via this note, we showcase what should be the remedy to our pain, i.e. comprehensive insurance that we took, but that is instead the problem. The insurer, in our case, hasn’t been spared the culture of: photocopy, cutting and pasting and sadly, linear thinking.

It may not be far-fetched to write on this blog that linear-thinking is a culture deeply embedded in our labour market fabric and whatever outcomes ensue, esp. services to the so-called end-point client. From where we stand, service tends to be stale, frustrating, text-book like and mostly annoying.

So – we have one of these Subaru vehicles that thieves on the Kampala streets keep reaping the driving mirrors out of. We are yet to understand why these mirrors are so much on demand. Sadly – this is done while we are stuck in a jam, at the clocktower and when everyone is looking. Imagine having to deal with this kind of individual property rights and space violation. It’s our right being raped in the open, but let’s leave that story for another day.

Our Subaru’s left driving mirror has been reaped out twice, and this poor vehicle is comprehensively insured with United Assurance Company (UAP). Of course, like any insured person, we approached the company for redress. It’s exactly for such situations that we get insured – right?

And what we got back (and for the record: the company was indeed following its set rules) left us wondering if the one-size-fits-all, cutting and pasting, stale approach to client-support works.  It certainly has alienated us from this company, and we will be looking somewhere else when our current contract ends.

Below is what was asked of us by the insurance company staff – before, apparently, the company can even bother talking to us on the matter: 

“Dear xxxxx,

Please ask client to share photo showing entire vehicle. The registration numbers also not captured, in addition the following will be required;

  • Police report
  • Fully filled claim form(attached)
  • Copy of logbook
  • Copy of Driver’s permit
  • At least two alternative repair quotations


And one would be right to ask us: why whine client? The company is doing what it said it would do. Well, it’s that mindset (and code) that we need to re-write in our service delivery orientation:

  • Copy of logbook: The company already has a copy of the vehicle logbook as it was provided when we entered into the contract – why are they asking for this again?
  • Two alternative repair quotations: this, against one from the one or two official Subaru dealers in Uganda – what do you think we are going to do? Where should we even get these quotations? And do you think they get authentic quotes from claimants? Is this an idle requirement – symptomatic of photocopy, cutting and pasting, linear thinking? As well, is this what drives a culture of processing forged paperwork?
  • Copy of driver’s permit: so – did this company entered into a contract with us without ascertaining if we were certified to drive? You think so?
  • Police report: a police report for now standard theft and accepted in Uganda – and as it happens, the police can’t do much themselves. What is the purpose of the report? What do the police know or not? The company must be protecting itself against illegal and feigned claims – right? But do you think they are? Do I need to get into all these admin. hustles as a client for such a minor claim? Is the typical: “we were told how to – always shall, whether it makes sense or not” at play here?

Of-course, UAP is following its SOPs on this matter. And they will remind us, I’m sure, that is what we signed on. But is it too tick-box and simply silly? Does the blanket, one size fits all approach make sense? Like we are educated, frontline staff are like robots following rules (code) from the bosses. We actually dare ask, does management actually even know, let alone understand this?

Why keep and enforce process for the sake of it? Do we question enough? If we at the Effectiveness lab were taken on to help UAP, and they clearly need help – we can show them one hundred ways to get efficacy and change from this mechanistic and linear, client-repellent culture to an efficacy, common sense, and customer-satisfaction focused paradigm, that is ultimately bottom-line enhancing.

For sure, we are bound to vote with our feet on this. Take our small money somewhere else where we believe customer-service-interfacing is more appropriate, tailored and effective.


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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