My wife and I were shopping this weekend when we passed a restaurant that has been in our area for many years. It's been a couple years since we ate there, and while the food and service was adequate and it appeared to be generally clean, we were underwhelmed with the overall experience. The restaurant, which used to routinely have a wait for tables, was largely empty on that particular night. We noted that the owners had changed nothing over the almost thirty years we had lived in the area. Same decor, same furnishings – even the wire condiment caddies, things long since abandoned by the industry, were still in use on the tables. This building was tired, and emitted a sense of exhaustion throughout its largely empty core. 

So it was no surprise to us that the restaurant is now gone, and just a sad, desolate and decaying building remains where a vital economic organism once thrived. The people who owned it became complacent, and failed to continually reinvest in the very facility that initially brought them great success. 

Our customers, people who invest in our businesses or services with their time and money, want to see that we care about our own operations.  They want to see that we are willing to invest in our facilities and ourselves in order to continue earning their business and their trust. I learned this many years ago, in as I often say, another life. 

I worked in hospitality management right out of college, and a restaurant where I had taken a position as General Manager underwent a minor remodel. A customer stopped me after it was complete, and told me they used to be fairly regular patrons, but had stopped coming in. The man told me the place just felt tired, and they started going elsewhere. However, they had noted the work as they were driving by one morning, and they decided to once again partake of our offerings. He was glad they did.

And so was I.

As we drove by that empty shell of a restaurant, I thought about how that principle applies to virtually everyone and everything, and at more than an economic level. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do. The principle is the same. Complacency must be continually replaced. Change and self investment is critical.

At this very moment, we are undergoing the first phase of what will be a major three part redesign of our core website, (This News and Blog area is the last to see those changes, as there are more significant technological updates associated with this section). It is the fifth major design change we've performed in 15 years, and with the current template almost 8 years old is frankly overdue. While it is designed to give a more contemporary look and feel, there are navigational improvements as well as site wide integration of the Google translator service, so that content here may be read in more than 2 dozen languages. Our site is also undergoing some major technological improvements this year; more than it has seen since its inception in 2007. It is all part of remaining current, relevant, and decidedly non-complacent. 

Of course, unexpected changes may also cause us to quickly shed an unearned veil of complacency. 2015 has, thus far, been an extremely challenging year for us from a technology perspective. While we normally trundle along without major incident, this year started of with a bang – or better yet a crash. Make that multiple crashes. In a confluence of misfortune, in the midst of several new upgrade projects, we found ourselves grappling with multiple failing servers. Since we deploy a multiple server/geographic network center strategy, none of these issues was largely apparent to our users and customers. We were able to keep forward facing operations functioning, but believe me, the dancing hamsters with duct tape were scampering behind the scenes. Some skilled and dedicated technology folks in the office certainly earned their keep.

In hindsight, I realize the two most simultaneously problematic machines, one in Dallas and the other in Minneapolis, were also our oldest provisioned servers. We had become complacent with them, and should have rolled them offline sooner than we did. These issues also showed us where the weaknesses were in our backup and load sharing plans (we provide free website hosting for several local non-profit entities. We actually lost an entire site as it was missed in our backup profiles. Oops).

Lesson 2: When complacency bites you in the ass, learn from the lesson.

There is not an entity in workers' compensation where this same principle does not apply. In fact, I would suggest that as an industry we became too complacent over the years. We are (or were) statutorily mandated in every state but one. People had to use us. While there is internal competition within the industry in all but 4 states, there was no external competition to our sector as a whole. That can lead to a dangerous complacency, and the recent challenges to exclusive remedy, the possible trend to Opt Out and the ProPublica series have been (or should be) our wake up call. 

As an industry, workers' compensation must shed any complacency and invest in our future. We can upgrade to a newer, improved system that meets the needs of today's stakeholders (Helloooooo Workers' Recovery!). We need to replace complacency, today.

Otherwise, refer to lesson 2 above for more information.



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