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. To assure we’re always up to date, The Nolan Company invests in industry thought leadership such as our own proprietary research (e.g., Nolan’s P&C Executive Survey and our Life and Annuities Surveys), countless industry presentations (e.g., at AHIP, IASA, LOMA/LIMRA), published articles, and benchmarking (e.g., The Nolan Bank Performance Study) to name a few.  Insights from some of these are highlighted in this edition of The Nolan Newsletter.

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 United States.  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 which resonate around the subjects of people, process, and company culture including:


  • First, and always first, get the right people on the team.
  • Take care of your people and they will take care of you.
  • The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them.
  • Look for intelligence and judgment, and most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners.
  • Look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.
  • Great leaders are often great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.

Process and Disclipline

  • Confront the brutal facts, whatever they might be.
  • Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.
  • Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so just because you might not like what you find.
  • Be forever vigilant in continuing to sharpen your saw.
  • Be proactive.
  • Always begin with the end in mind.


  • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
  • Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved.
  • Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.
  • Have fun and don’t always run at a breakneck pace.

Sources:  Colin 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 which 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 on this edition of The Nolan Newsletter.  Please drop me a line at