by William DiPaolo
Cogent Road sells Software as a Service (SaaS) applications to the mortgage industry. This places us smack dab in the middle of one of the most violent economic storms our economy has ever endured. Over the past year the world has witnessed established, deep rooted mortgage related companies tossed about and destroyed with the violence of a tornado ripping through a mobile home park. When the dust finally settles, the mortgage landscape will be forever changed – operating in ways entirely unfamiliar.
For us at Cogent Road, the past year drove home a single point that is, without hesitation, the most important business lesson our company ever learned. Rather than simply telling you, let me illustrate the answer in the following example.
In highly stressful situations the mind absorbs data and feedback very intently. Talk to anyone involved in an automobile accident and invariably you’ll hear the same thing – the experience seemed to happen in slow motion. What actually occurs is that in times of great danger the human mind processes visual information at significantly higher speeds. So fast and with such clarity that events seem to slow down as our brains absorb nearly every detail.
Our body’s natural response to highly stressful events is one of survival. Without conscious thought our nervous systems takes command of every bodily function, sifting through a myriad of possibilities – and finally choosing a course of action with the greatest possible chance of success. And there it is. What instinctively occurs in the blink of an eye also reveals an important business truth.
In my opinion business fail for one reason – they stop trying. I’m not being trite; the business leadership simply stops thinking about they can do to change and improve. In stressful market conditions, these business succumb to fear, which is to say the literally shut down creative thought completely. That is to say the response is entirely contrary our natural inclination to stressful events. Rather than assessing possibilities, they stop thinking and choke off their very lifeblood – which if it doesn’t kill the business outright, it nonetheless leaves it crippled and weak.
My partner and I learned that in good times or bad, we must continually think about how we can grow our business. This means creating an environment which fosters knowledge sharing, crazy ideas and healthy debate. And most importantly it means taking the action you feel is best, despite anything fear may throw at you.
I know what I am saying is true – because Business Spaces, our new workflow automation system is a direct result. Cogent Road management spent countless hours thinking about how we could use existing resources to provide new solutions to the mortgage lending market. We filled up whiteboard after whiteboard with ways in which software could help mortgage lenders get more production from fewer people. We designed improvements over existing paperless solutions while incorporating ways for lenders to enhance the overall experience for their borrowers. Client response has exceeded our expectations.
While a deteriorating market environment kept screaming at us to hunker down and cut spending – we did the opposite. We assessed the market, thought through our options and realized that to grow we’d have to act on the best one.
I encourage you to do the same.