From Behavioral Indicator to Action

I'm a firm believer that you are what you measure. To combat the complexity of life we search for indicators that help us make improved decisions. 

Constantly we are looking for reinforcement that we are winning or losing. There is incredible power in framing the indicators of winning and losing.

Uncovering true indicators of winning and losing assumes objective and quantifiable measures of performance that are accurate, reliable and replicable.

In our current networked world more behavioral data is tracked than ever before we have created new indicators in all realms of society - from academia to sports. Regardless of how you feel about "sabermetric" everything, the opportunities and implication for business are pretty astounding. 

I'm all for creating schemas based on complex indicators to help us understand the world and make decisions based on data rather than limited experiences or focus groups of 1.

This is why I was pretty excited to get a Progressive "Snapshot" in the mail.

The "Snapshot" is a device that you plug into your car that tracks your driving behavior around three key indicators of unsafe driving, and you get a personalized rate based on how you drive. 

What a SnapShot Measures

1. Driving between 12 AM and 4 AM 

2. How many miles you drive

3. How often you "slam" the breaks

These do seem like pretty good indicators of unsafe driving.

But then it happened. If you live in Minneapolis, or any other snowy climate you know what driving in the snow is like. 

Our Issue

Every time we would drive in the snow, the snapshot would go nuts. This, in turn, drove me nuts. 

From Progressive's perspective, I get that snowy driving is more risky than on clear roads, but that should already be factored into our rates, which is partly based on geography.  

How SnapShot Could Be Better 

Snapshot should be used as an ongoing mechanism to reward safe driving behavior, rather than a set renewal discount for five months based on  30 days of driving. 

Companies can be much smarter about they way they use behavioral indicators to reinforce and reward behavior.

The power of a behavioral indicator is not in its measurement, but in its interpretation and usage.

Excited about a future where the data we create makes the roads a safer place.

Well, maybe we've still got a ways to go, judging by Google search intent. 

Daniel Prager