Why I’m playing the finite game?

Recently I attended an interview with a start up health insurance company, founded by a group of very smart people.

After the interview I was processing our exchange of questions and thoughts. One of the team members was upset with my question, “Why would other, bigger players in the market not be able to do what your company does today?” His response was,“The bigger insurance companies don’t want to change their legacy platforms and it would take them too long -- even if they understood they needed to change” I came to a understanding that I had questioned the existence of this young, smart, ambitious and mission-driven person. The same question was part of the interview by another team member posted to me, “What will make us go extinct?”

Traditionally health insurance companies provide financial support for the patients in the structure, but are heavily influenced by lobbyists from big stake holders, pharma, hospitals and physicians, for whom the motivation is profit. The fact is that bigger insurance companies are already holding much personal health data, all they would need is a shift in perspective and strong leaders to pursue patient-centric care.

With the huge mission statement of “lowering medical insurance cost thru prevention and making it affordable”, start-ups like Clover, Collective and Oscar Health are shifting the perspective of how the industry will be viewed in the future — — thus shifting the culture. This change of purpose applies for most start-ups. I’m just trying to focus my topic around one sector, but you get the idea.

The question what I asked the young man was purely an existential question for every startup, if I had asked this question to one of the founders I would have received a more thoughtful answer. As a founder myself, I know that we play the finite game, but employees believe it is an infinite game. Unless the mission is perpetuated to the last employee, startups cannot survive the initial stages and the founders of this particular startup has done an amazing job.

When I’m looking for my next opportunity I want to be part of the infinite game of shifting the perspective in healthcare, hence slowly shifting the culture and not bound by the boundaries of the society, but I very well know I will be playing a very finite game.

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