Archive for June, 2013

Baby Steps: How following Nik Wallenda scross the Grand Canyon can give your organization a Competitive Advantage

For those who caught Sunday night’s “Skywire with Nik Wallenda” you can relate to the old cautionary phrase “don’t try this at home”!  To say this was simply amazing is quite an understatement.  Having been to the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t imagine being in midair a quarter mile above it with no harness or safety net.   I could hardly stand at the edge and look down without feeling a little anxiety. 

As we talk about executing basic blocking and tackling skills, the success of Wallenda reinforces the need to always focus on the fundamentals.   In a day and age when we often overcomplicate problems, we can look no further than this success to see that results come incrementally, one step at a time. 

While this stunt was phenomenal, and beyond the comprehension of many, including myself, Wallenda succeeded because of his focus and determination.   These are lessons that we need to bring into our own organizations.   As discussed in Blocking & Tackling: The Playbook for the Winning Claims Organization, it is the basics of claims that allow us to excel. 

As complex as claims can  be, at their root are three simple premises; coverage, liability and damages.  

Coverage: Is this a covered loss?  Who is responsible to afford the coverage?  Are their multiple responsible parties? 

Liability: Who is at fault for the loss and to what degree?

Damages:  Were economic damages sustained?  Are they related?  Are general damages owed? 

At the most basic level, even the most complex claims can be broken down to nothing more than a tight rope and a good fitting pair of shoes.  But, alas, claims aren’t always that simple and at times it can seem as if we are a quarter mile above the Grand Canyon, teetering to the right or left.  

Herein lies the key to success, where focus and determination can drive consistency and accuracy.   Like Wallenda, we can’t afford to falter.   While the result for a mistep in our organizations isn’t a quarter mile plunge to a certain death, it can result in costly errors that adversely impact our careers and our companies.     

The key to success, and avoiding such errors, is to ensure that there are solid processes, procedures and workflows in place.   The result of such attention to detail is a consistent output in a calibrated organization where claims are handled in a uniform manner.   Coverage, liability and damage investigations are conducted concurrently with the understanding that we are acting as the fiduciary for our insured, looking to properly and accurately indemnify those that have been wronged.  

Five things to consider:

Procedures should be well thought out, well documented and highly defensible.

Processes are critical to quality as they define how your procedures are executed.   In the optimal state, the claims organization works as a fine tuned assembly line whereby low touch claims are moved quickly to closure.   More complex claims involving coverage or liability decisions are moved to a well trained group of adjusters who are armed with the best tools in the business to make liability and damage decisions.  

People should be the best and the brightest.  Don’t equate tenure with success; while it can mean success, there is no guarantee.  Rather, equate quality with success.  The single largest spend in most organizations are people.  It is this investment that largely differentiates the ordinary from the extraordinary!

Calibration involves leveraging the right people with the right processes and procedures in order to provide for consistent and uniform outcomes.  It is this measurable differentiator that gives one an competitive advantage in an increasingly difficult marketplace. 

Technology has come a long way since I began handling claims in the days of dictaphones, polaroids and cell phones the size of small TV.   There are incredible claim systems and document management systems, and any number of tools that can be integrated to drive outcomes, such as ClaimIQ for liability decisions and a framework to optimize negotiations. 

But, success doesn’t come overnight.   Nik Wallenda, started walking tightropes at the age of 2, and trained for weeks to succeed in his quest to conquer the Grand Canyon.   Each day, month and year, he got a little bit better, one step at a time.   He didn’t flinch while executing on the most basic of skills; walking.  His focus and determination let him take one step at a time to achieve a desired outcome.  This is exactly what we must do in our claims organizations, and for that matter, in all aspects of life.  

Chris Tidball is a claims consultant with Mitchell International, author and speaker.  He has more than two decades of adjusting, management and leadership experience with multiple top 10 P&C carriers.  To learn more, please check out his books at www.christidball.com or e-mail him at chris.tidball@mitchell.com

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June 25, 2013 at 9:17 am 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 chris@christidball.com

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