Wayne Gretzky’s overused sports metaphor, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been” still has relevant legs. It speaks to innovation, looking to the future. Innovation is largely absent in our highly fractionalized valuation industry.

Using only Windows 11, O365 and an HP 12c is NOT innovative. It’s junior ice hockey league.

“Competing without technology and process would be like Tampa Bay Lighting’s Nikita Kucherov in the rink with a third grader.”

MAI (Master of Adding Innovation)

Maybe the MAI designation should have a new meaning, Master of Adding Innovation. As professionals, we should consider innovating our product because doing the same thing the same way reduces long-term relevancy.

Seeing yourself as only responsible for ordering reports, getting the work in the door and reviewing is not best practice anymore. Those tasks are sawdust, base-line work. Your real value is to lead with innovation.

If you haven’t noticed with AI, the pace of change is accelerating. It’s not technology but your attitude towards it. There’s a potential that AI hype is over exaggerated, but it has usefulness today, not down the road.

If you’ve played with ChatGPT4 or Google’s Bard, you’ll quickly notice it’s amazing for writing. Guess what industry writes a ton…that’s right, appraisers. Many supervisors lament about poor writing skills. So, log on to either platform and copy/paste the (not so bueno) subject property paragraphs. Ask AI to make the writing “more professional” or “act like a commercial real estate appraiser” and revise. 

3 Ideas to Impact

Peter Drucker nails the obvious, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” That said, Steven Johnson’s, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation takes it to the next level.

  1. “Chance favors the connected mind.”
  2. “Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore.”
  3. “We are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting them.”

Connecting the dots is a powerful method to innovate. For chief appraisers, one of those dots may be the C-suite applying pressure to make their banks MUCH more competitive (dot or connection) WHILE protecting collateral. Other dots may include how to SEGMENT bias claims away from day-to-day sound risk management with AUTOMATED workflow.

For fee appraisers, the dots may be IMPROVED valuation analysis WHILE remaining profitable. Many appraisers are fatigued due to old ways of thinking. Fix your partially implemented software, lack of documentation and provide direction for your team.

Technology and process investment allows appraisers to have the headspace to run a world-class firm. Imagine reading appraisals that consistently did a great job describing how the subject fits into the market rather than voluminous boilerplate. We need to connect that dot more consistently.

5 Ways to Innovate

Here are a few tips for fee and bank appraisers that want to “skate to where the puck is going to be.”

  1. Stay up-to-date on industry trends. See what other appraisal companies and appraisal departments are doing. Call and talk to your peers, you might be surprised.
  2. Invest time. You may need to invest in new technologies (😊like DataComp Suite or YouConnect). If you don’t change, you won’t achieve anything truly groundbreaking. Another sport’s metaphor, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
  3. Embrace failure. Failure is a natural part of the innovation process. It’s the path to iterate solutions that work the way you do.
  4. Collaborate with others. Innovation often happens at the intersection of different disciplines. Gain new perspectives from those outside valuation.
  5. Be patient. Innovation takes time. Don’t expect to see results overnight. It takes time to develop a truly innovative product, service and culture. Put in the practice like a professional hockey player.

See the Matrix

If we connect the dots, we see the matrix on how to improve. Otherwise, we’ll be caught flat footed and the other team scores. It’s much more rewarding to win the valuation Stanley Cup through technology and process.

Skate to where your puck will be.

Make a goal. Celebrate with your people.