How Do You Stay Nimble in a Period of Rapid Change?

As many of us have found over the course of 2020, we are in a time of rapid and constant change, and this is a dynamic that is not likely to stop anytime soon. Furthermore, we have also seen how one of the most crucial skills necessary for success having the nimbleness to respond to all of this change.

While these two things seem self-evident, they can also work against each other. No matter how nimble you are, if the rules of the game constantly change, you can still seem slow or behind the curve.

Another danger is that the constant shifting can lead to “shiny object syndrome” where you keep changing focus, jumping into the next idea and never actually delivering anything or making progress.

So what can you do to overcome this and respond to the rapid changes in the market nimbly and effectively? Two things will serve you well here – a flexible, extensible architecture and a set of priorities that’s balanced between low hanging fruit and bigger, strategic initiatives.

Flexible & Extensible

As I’ve discussed in a past blog article, being able to scale up and down on demand and having the ability to connect to new tools and solutions via APIs are critical enablers for any insurer. Moving to Cloud-based solutions allows you to deploy much faster, and throttle your capacity up and down, as needed. The Cloud is also where APIs thrive, with many solutions having rich API libraries and ready-to-deploy ways to connect to solutions you may be using already or that you perhaps held off using due to a lack of bandwidth for another heavy integration effort. APIs change this dynamic dramatically, and can bring deployment timing down to single-digit weeks.

This all matters as no matter how quickly you decide to do something new, different or better, if you run up against an implementation bottleneck, your nimbleness will be wasted.

Being Cloud-native is not a panacea or automatic solution for any problem, but it does remove one of the most consistent constraints the Insurance industry has faced around speed of integration and deployment for any technology solution.

Balanced Prioritization

While the flexibility Cloud-based solutions can bring are the tactical tools to deliver on your nimbleness, you need the right decision making ability and clarity in your path to set the strategy for these tactical tools to deliver on.

Environments typified by constant, rapid change can naturally push you toward a nearly pure focus on low-hanging fruit because the list of Must-Do projects is always shifting, growing and shouting for attention.

Letting this type of list define your priorities is a recipe to go nowhere fast.

And yet you cannot ignore the need for many of these short-term imperatives, as we saw with things like enabling remote work for your teams or self-service for many parts of the policy or claim service workflow when lockdowns began hitting customers and carriers around the world.

The problem with simply responding to every interesting idea that pops up may feel nimble, without direction and cohesion as to why you are responding to that particular opportunity, you can stray off course to a place that leaves you disjointed and disconnected from your goals and from what the market really wants of you.

As I shared in another prior blog piece, the solution is to step back, and ask yourself, “What do we want the future to look like? What do our customers need it to look like? What will our partners need?”

With these longer-term, strategic themes and directions, you can evaluate each of the surprises you encounter in a broader content to evaluate whether it is valuable to do to get you further down the path you’re on. Or, if it’s a divergence from that path, you’ll have the strategic goals in hand to evaluate it against and decide if your goals need adjustment from this new input or insight.

In either case, you steer both the short- and long-term innovation investment by your ultimate goals and intention rather than just being whipsawed around by new demands or ignoring them completely.

Putting It Together

Having a strategic direction to define the types of things you need to deliver on gives you the maturity to evaluate all the different new ideas and demands buzzing around you to pick the right ones to address, and engage in them quickly. Being able to tap into the flexibility, scalability and power of API-enabled, Cloud-based solutions lowers the effort, complexity and time to bring those decisions to market as new products, services and solutions for your customers.

Rapid, strategic decision making delivered through modern tools is the perfect combination to stay nimble even in the face of the kind of rapid changes we are experiencing right now in Insurance, and more broadly in the economy and society overall.