Archive for March, 2013

Bracket Busters – The success behind Florida Gulf Coast’s stunning upsets

Amid the palm trees that sway in the sultry sun of southwest Florida is an upstart basketball program that has obliterated virtually everyone’s NCAA brackets.   Despite this, they are quickly becoming the darlings of fans near and far as a Cinderella , the likes of which we have never seen before. 

As the first 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, the Florida Gulf  Coast Eagles are making a name for themselves.   At the helm of this young program is Andy Enfield, former entrepreneur turned coach.

Andy knows a thing or two about basketball, holding a number of hoops records from his years at Johns Hopkins, not the least of which was 2,025 career points and a 92.5% free throw average.    Following undergraduate school he earned an MBA, paid for from the proceeds of his startup lacrosse camp.  

With this entrepreneurial spirit in his blood, he moved to New York and launched, and providing consultative support to various NBA franchises.   He subsequently became one of the first employees at TractManager, a very successful health care contract management solution.   As he says, “Since I had my MBA in finance, I wanted to try to build a startup company and see where it went,”

As his entrepreurial spirit blossomed, he couldn’t get basketball out of his blood.   He was able to sell a portion of his investment in TractManager, giving him the financial freedom to pursue his real passion, that of being the CEO of a Division I basketball program. 

After spending five years as an assistant with Florida State, he took on the challenge of the fledgling Florida Gulf Coast program and in his first year led the Eagles to a record 15 wins and the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. 

This year, it was time for the big dance.   Enfield has put together a run and dunk offense that is taking opponents by storm.  Prior to being the first #15 in history to advance to the Sweet 16, the Eagles dismantled a tough Miami program  during the regular season.   This same program is in the tournament as a #2 seed, the same ranking as the Eagles latest victims, Georgetown. 

Only time will tell if the Eagles can continue on this path to success, but certainly Andy Enfield has laid the foundation.   As discussed in Blocking & Tackling: The Playbook for the Winning Claims Organization, the keys to victory combine elements of the right people, the right processes and the right technology. 

To say the players taking to the floor for the Eagles are athletic is an understatement.  This is a team that has won back to back tournament upsets by ten or more points with aerial displays that would be make the Blue Angels envious.  But aerial theatrics aside, this is a team that does everything well.    They execute basic Basketball 101 with extreme precision, guided by a former Wall Street executive who understands the basic premise of building a winning formula.  It is this process improvement that has turned a once unheard of program into a household name. 

Lastly, there is the technology component, clearly a strength for a coach who once launched a website focused on basketball fundamentals.  In the information age, he has identified key players overlooked by other schools.   With only one player from Florida’s Gulf Coast, FGCU has leveraged technology to pull in talent not only domestically, but from throughout the world with Christophe Varidel, Alexander Blessig and Filip Cvieticanin hailing from Central Europe. 

Next up for the Eagles is cross state rival Florida.   As a team with the capability to win the entire tournament, they will have their hands full.  As current 13 point underdogs, they certainly have the potential to wreak havoc on the oddsmakers.  Whatever the outcome, this has been a great run with many lessons on who to build organizational success that we can all learn from. 

Christopher Tidball is an executive claims consultant and the author of multiple books including Blocking & Tackling: The Playbook for the Winning Claims Organization.   He is an insurance industry veteran and currently a consultant with Mitchell International.  To learn more, please visit



March 28, 2013 at 6:18 am Leave a comment

Getting the #1 Seed for your claims organization

ImageMarch Madness is upon us with a flurry of activity as millions complete their NCAA brackets.   Who is going to be the national champion?  Who will be the Cinderella?  With 68 teams vying for the title, it is anyone’s guess; and far from predictable.  

So why is it that this particular sporting event is so hard to predict?  Perhaps it is because of the high level of talent that permeates NCAA basketball.   Players and coaches execute with precision and perfection in one of the fastest sports around.   At the end of the day, what wins championships will ultimately prevail; execution of fundamental skills. 

As office pools are forming, now is a great time to indulge in this exercise by turning it into a life lesson to better your own claims organization.   What makes Louisville a number one seed?  What makes Davidson a great choice for an upset pick?  Can San Diego State leverage the elite talent of Jamal Franklin to be Cinderella?  These, and many other questions, will be answered over the next couple of weeks.

March Madness provides a lot of lessons that we can take to the boardroom.   It is the ultimate test of teamwork, perseverance and coaching.  These are fundamental lessons that many organizations can use to build upon.  

One of the most interesting aspects of March Madness is that it brings together diverse styles of play, reflecting that there is more than one way to skin a cat.   Fifth seeded Wisconsin is anything but a fast team, leveraging the clock with perhaps the slowest offense in the tournament, while 8th seeded Pitt simply tears apart opponents with their aggressive play.   Of course, there is Gonzaga, once a Cinderella, now the number one seed.   Different styles, different players, different philosophies that all win games. 

At the heart of hoops is a rather simplistic game with very basic tenets that form the foundation.   So too is this true in our organizations, where claims share the common foundation of liability and damages.  How we attack the claim is a different matter.   The key to success in both worlds is consistency.  We must develop our playbook and then consistently execute.  

We can also learn a great deal from the teams that falter.   A mere one year ago, 15th seeded Lehigh upset perennial powerhouse and second seeded Duke.   Could it happen again this year?  Could Bucknell or Albany spring a surprise?  The question isn’t if, but rather who, as the excitement of March Madness begins.  

The takeaway for our organizations is that nobody is invincible.  No matter how well we believe our processes and procedures are working, somebody just may have a better way.   If the opponent does a better job of leveraging capital and resources, they may slowly whittle away at market share with better claims handling and lower pricing.   Just as Gonzaga and Butler have morphed from ordinary to extraordinary, so to can our organizations. 

The key to success is to develop a plan built upon the basic principles of people, processes and technology.  By acquiring the best talent, we form the foundation for success.  Effective processes and technology enable us to leverage that talent better than the competition, precisely how many mid majors have exceeded expectations.   It is through our playbook, coaching and leadership that we develop the extraordinary organization that just may become the number one seed. 

Christopher Tidball is a claims consultant and author of multiple books including Blocking & Tackling: The Playbook for the Winning Claims Organization.   He is an insurance industry veteran and former claims leader.  To learn more, please visit


March 20, 2013 at 4:35 am Leave a comment

25th Annual Combined Claims Conference

25th Annual Combined Claims Conference

Attorney Ed Kent joins Mitchell International claims consultant and author Chris Tidball to headline the 25th Annual Combined Claims Conference with a forum on bringing out the insatiable curiosity in your claims organization.

March 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

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Chris Tidball is a claims and revenue management consultant and author of the "20 Essential Rules" series of self and organizational improvement books. You can ask him a question at

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