Improvise and Thrive

So the Little League World Series is in full swing. And once again, I’m hooked.

As someone who’s spent half his professional life as a sportswriter, I thoroughly enjoy this event. Truly, it brings back great memories.

During my days with a scorebook and reporter’s pad, I loved covering youth sports. For starters, Little League parents had not yet blossomed into self-appointed experts and therefore voiced less complaints—or at least voiced said complaints at lower decibel levels—than their high school peers.

More than that, though, seeing those light bulb moments unfold was magical. You cannot help but smile when a No. 9 hitter digs in, keeps his eye on the ball, and WHACK—delivers a single up the middle.

Those kids on ESPN are clearly more accomplished than most of the youngsters I wrote about. Their skill-sets are amazing, especially for this age. The big mind-boggler, though, is their ability to read, analyze, and react. Not only do they have a solid handle on traditional game situation decisions, their ability to improvise based on opposing personnel and organic developments is stellar.

That same quality is vital in fighting fraud.

My first job in this industry was in background verifications. During week one, they handed me a list of questions to ask a job candidate’s former employer. One question involved whether the employee left voluntarily or was fired.  The next queried whether said employee would be rehired if his/her position was open.

On my first call, the employer told me our subject had been terminated. However, he noted that said subject would be rehired if there was a vacancy.

I asked why.

Apparently, the subject was released due to a departmental cutback, not poor job performance. I noted this and finished the interview. When the individual training me reviewed my sheet, he questioned why I went off script. Apparently, “why” was not a company norm.

I was floored, and I resigned within three months.

Folks, let’s face it.  I did nothing revolutionary here.  I ran into a scenario that was not covered in black and white and improvised. It was Journalism 101, and it’s everyday life in any risk mitigation firm worth its salt.

While investigators either in house or in the field should have a strategic game plan, it’s equally important to make educated adjustments to ride the ebb and flow of a given assignment.

Whether born from experience, instinct, or somewhere in between, it is imperative that decisions stream rather than stagnate and ultimately advance toward a concrete resolution.

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