Trends Captivate but Principles Endure

Steve Discher
Insurance Experts' Forum, March 5, 2014

As trusted advisors to our clients, we must always be at the top of our game, particularly when it comes to business, technology and industry trends. But while understanding trends is essential, it's also important to understand their relative importance. Sometimes the latest "shiny object" can become a distraction or a pet project, drawing time and resources away from genuine business priorities. For example, there are thousands of mobile apps in existence or in development today. Some of those add customer or enterprise value, others don't. Yet they all consume precious resources.

For example, many carriers have implemented or are considering mobile auto claim apps. There are now apps for proof-of-insurance verification, which are accepted in place of printed insurance cards in over half of the U.S.

A while back, apps for creating a home inventory were seen as the latest "hot item." Like these examples, some trends are picking up steam while others have become clutter. The experimentation may be on target, but being overly focused on the latest, shiniest killer app, rather than the business benefit, is not.

Recently, I held a series of discussions with the leaders of some of our client companies. I was encouraged that so many were aware of important trends, yet they expressed a much greater focus on the principles that make their companies great. Indeed most of the C-suite discussions we have center on getting the principles right and on the corresponding execution versus reacting to a trend. We've captured several of these guiding principles over the years and would like to share a few that resonate around the subjects of people, process and company culture including:

Sources: Collin Powell, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Nolan, Anonymous

As we continue to observe and debate the latest trends and their implications, let's not lose sight of the essential principles that are equally important for managing our businesses. The newest trends and the latest gadgets may be exciting, but history has shown that successful businesses remain that way with a healthy respect for enduring principles. I welcome your thoughts and comments. 

Steve Discher is an EVP at the Robert E. Nolan Co. a management consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry. You can reach Steve at

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