MAR. 15, 2021
Going into the pandemic, we were faced with so many unknowns. And we faced them by controlling what we could—setting up our workplace on the kitchen table, sending a text alert when we discovered a shipment of cleaning supplies at the store, learning to bake loaf after loaf of sourdough bread from scratch. We operated on instinct to make the best decisions in the moment for our families, our community, and ourselves.
A year into our current reality, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we apply this same approach to making good business decisions faster. I’m not necessarily talking about making the “right” decision—how can you possibly know with 100% certainty what’s “right”? Rather, it’s informed, quick decision making , now—better known as decision velocity . There are three concerns that keep people from implementing high velocity decision making… concerns that when you look at them closely aren’t as scary as you think.
This is too risky
Former Disney CEO Robert Iger said, “People sometimes shy away from big swings because they build a case against trying something before they even step up to the plate. Long shots aren’t usually as long as they seem.”
If there’s one thing this moment has afforded us, it’s the opportunity to take some big swings.
At Nationwide, we already had plans to deploy our three-minute quote and bind system, Nationwide Express®, over the next year. But a timetable that seemed so reasonable in January 2020 no longer met the need in this moment. We needed to speed things up to help agents write business simply and quickly.
I should wait until everything is perfect
As we considered the Nationwide Express rollout, we asked ourselves, “What needed to happen to fast-track it?” Going in, we didn’t have all the answers—but we had most of them. Combine that with the talent and experience of our team and the needs of our agents and customers, we were confident in our decision to move forward to deliver the tools our partners needed to support their business. What went from a 12-month plan was in the hands of our partners in just three months.
In Nationwide’s case, if we waited for the perfect time and for every answer to every question, we would still be in the midst of rolling out a solution our partners and customers needed now.
Something could go wrong!
Yes, there is a risk of things not going perfectly. However, having a good plan and team in place to get you back on track if something does go wrong can mitigate this concern. This reminds me of an everyday example: commercial aircraft are off course more than 90% of the time but, through an almost-constant series of course corrections, they get where they’re going with precision and (almost always) on time. In the case of Nationwide Express, we applied continuous learning to the roll out, applying the learnings from the technology hurdles we ran into early on to make each subsequent state release faster, simpler and more seamless.
Decision velocity isn’t shooting from the hip or throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. It’s about making informed decisions faster. It’s about trusting your team to be the experts. It’s about listening closely to your employees and customers to truly understand their needs.
The past 12 months have pushed us forward in ways we simply couldn’t anticipate. We learned that, by moving past the inertia of the unknown and embracing what we’ve learned from this moment, we can accelerate what’s possible.