Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Claims, Claims and Higher Costs...

I see many advertisements for companies who promise to help with personal injury or other claims.  Are these really adding any value?

Yes, you might say. They help “victims” to obtain compensation that is “rightfully” theirs.  I understand this and, to an extent, agree.  After all, I’m no legal expert when it comes to knowing when I’m entitled to compensation for workplace accidents or unethical sales practices.  If I can get financial compensation to which I’m “entitled” (even though the corporate behemoth who caused the problem won’t tell me), then why not?  It doesn’t hurt anyone else apart from the “transgressor”, right?

Not necessarily.  

The claims specialists that act on my behalf on a “no win, no fee” or “you get the full compensation” basis make their money by adding their fees to the final claim on which the company against which I’m complaining (or they’re complaining on my behalf) has to pay out.  Even the pay-out may well be settled by that company’s insurer. 

This means that eventually the insurance company has to start raising its premiums, as it has to account for the extra fees of the claims specialist.  That results in higher costs for us to insure ourselves.  If, like me, you hardly ever claim, it means that you’re paying the salary of someone else who makes their living by adding little to the economy.

It’s tempting to use claims specialists to pursue a claim which you may think that you have, but in the end, it ends up adding to everyone’s bill.  Why would people use them?  Several reasons:

·     Lack of knowledge of what their rights to compensation may be;
·     Saves time (someone else does the “legwork” on your behalf);
·     May result in higher compensation than they would have won if claiming themselves;
·     Greed.

The easy answer is for people not to use claims specialists.  However, this is unlikely to happen.

What would be more useful is for the same claims specialists to share their data (insofar as confidentiality allows) about whom they pursue claims against and the amount of compensation extracted.  In this way, organisations with poor safety records or high levels of claims against them would be known and people could make more informed choices on whom to work for.  Insurers could then raise the premiums of those companies, rather than across the board.

In the case of car accident victims, the information shared could include the type of injury, vehicle and area in which the accident happened.  In this way, we would know whether certain vehicles were more often involved in accidents, or where particular “accident blackspots” were to be found.  Insurers could use names of claimants to track whether certain people were “victim specialists” and using the system to extract compensation wherever they could.

In the UK, banks accused of mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) set aside billions to pay compensation.  The claims specialists involved could publish data on which banks they were seeing the most claims against (in terms of numbers of claimants andin terms of value) as well as in which area to help determine where the main problems lay.

Why not insist that claims specialists share their data to benefit society as a whole?


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in the world financial services industry running different service, operations and lending businesses, I started my own Performance Management Consultancy and work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

Labels: ,

Monday, 27 August 2018

Challenge

Different organisational cultures view questioning (“challenging”) one’s boss in different ways.  In some, it’s just not the “done thing”.  In others, it’s welcomed.

The aviation and medical industries are great proponents of the “2 Challenge Rule”.  This rule sounds like its name: a co-worker or subordinate may ask their leader or manager why they’re doing something or if they’re aware that something’s going on.  If the person being asked doesn't answer or respond twice in a row, they can be “relieved”. 

This has proven particularly useful in situations where lives are at stake (e.g. operating rooms or on aircraft flight decks).  In these situations, the surgeon performing the operation or the captain of the aircraft may be so focussed on their perception of the situation that they may ignore or not be aware of other factors which may cause a greater problem. Where lives are literally at stake, it’s vital that people can speak up.

Allowing people to speak up is easier said than done.  It’s not easy for a leader to admit that they may be wrong, even if it means coming to a better decision in the end.  They may worry that their subordinates will lose faith in them (valid, in some cases).  

Equally, their subordinates, may fear retribution, even if they’re aware of other critical factors that will have escaped the boss’ notice.  Some cultures frown upon “juniors” challenging their seniors – it “just isn’t done”.

Everyone wants the team to reach the best decision if they’re a true team player.  It has also been demonstrated that group decisions tend to be better than individual ones (try the Lost at Seaexercise to prove this).

The exception to this may be where the leader is the “acknowledged expert” in a particular field and has more specialised knowledge than their subordinates.  Whilst an Airline Captain may have more flying hours than his First Officer, the latter will still have been through the same flight training and recertification processes as the Captain and is well-placed to challenge.  

Getting comfortable with being challenged (let alone encouraging it) isn't easy.  No wonder people find it hard to implement as a general practice.


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.Challenge

Labels: ,

Saturday, 18 August 2018

It’s Not the Right Time…

“To discuss this”, “to plan right now”, “to improve my fitness.” We follow up with something like “but it’s on my radar” or “I’ll look into it,” “I’ll do it tomorrow/next week,” – anything to stave off the moment of having to do something outside what we’re comfortable with right now.

One thing I’ve noticed about entrepreneurs is that, when they want to do something, they’ll do it, even if they’re not totally prepared.  They “wing it” as they go along, trusting in their knowledge and skills to resolve issues along the way.  They know there’s no such thing as “the perfect plan”.

“I don’t have time” or “It’s not the right time yet” are what we say when we want to procrastinate or because we genuinely believe that we need more information or other inputs before taking decisive action.  It sounds good – we’re so busy that we can’t break off from our valuable activity just now because that’s more important.

We dohave genuine reasons: sorting out an “urgent and important problem” (“firefighting”), or a deadline that is due.  These are fine and are usually short-lived.  It’s when we just continually seem to think the time’s not “right” or that “there’s no time” that we have to ask about priorities.  I have the same answer every time someone tells me that “it’s not the right time”: “Tell me when the timeis right and I'll schedule it.”  Some try to wriggle out and say “I’ll let you know” so I ask for a date and a time in the future.  If they don't want to commit, move on.  When they ask why it wasn’t done, explain.

Equally, when people say “I don't have the time,” they’re mistaken.  They have the same as the rest of us (24 hours/day, 7 days/week).   Millionaires don't have more time that the rest of us; more money, yes but more time?  No.   

The point is, again, that it’s never the perfectly “right” time to do something.  Yes, there are temporary obstacles and others may arise along the way, and it’s OK to gather as much information as we can, but in the end we have to think like an entrepreneur and “go for it”.  

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The “Perfect Storm”

In 2000, Warner Bros. released “The Perfect Storm” – a film about how in October 1991 a “confluence of weather conditions” created a “killer storm” in the North Atlantic.  Apart from the adventure of the brave souls on board a small fishing vessel, the film narrates the conditions that all came together at the same time.

I read an article today that referred to an industry sector in a particular country suffering from low sales in June due to a “Perfect Storm” of certain events all happening at more or less the same time to create a drop in activity.  Normally, businesses plan for disasters based on one unfortunate event happening, but it’s not common practice to think about what might happen if several events happened at the same time.  A typical example might be a hospital drama where the power gets cut off due to a city-wide outage and the hospital is inundated with victims of accidents caused by the same power outage affecting traffic lights, etc.  To complicate matters, hospital staff have been struck by a virus in the hospital and are unable to work…

A business is judged not by how it handles “business as usual”, but by how it handles problems. We have to produce “Business Continuity Plans” based on one catastrophic event, but we don't do it for several. To illustrate, in one area I worked, we had a plan for a hurricane striking the area and how we would manage to clear transactions.  We rehearsed it every year and were confident that we could recover to a level where things were running as smoothly as possible.

One of the conditions for things working was that two staff had to fly out to mainland USA to work from an office there.  We actually rehearsed getting them there and logging onto our systems.

Looking back, what we didn't account for was eventualities like those staff being unable to work (e.g. because of injuries caused by the hurricane, or not being able to fly out due to all aircraft being grounded at the airport).  We didn't factor in the effect of a regional pandemic incapacitating half our staff at the same time.  

The question is, how “bad” do things have to get before our business or organisation has to acknowledge that it can't operate?  Here’s a framework: ask yourself:
  • What could go wrong?
  • What could cause it to go wrong?
  • What could we do to eliminate or reduce the cause?
  • What could we do after to recover?

 It’s not pleasant to think of disasters and what might go wrong, but doing so shows us where we could tighten up and what we could do to mitigate or even prevent many of the effects of “The Perfect Storm”. 


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

Labels: , , , ,