Written by Abiodun Mamora
I’m sure you have at some point in time congratulated someone or just merely appreciated a person for doing something exceptional. Well, am here to share with you one compelling secret of exceptional finance professionals and challenge you to join the league.
Being exceptional is a function of your ability to provide innovative solutions to problems.
Organisations are a breeding ground for challenges waiting to be tapped and the finance department is not spared. If you take a closer look, you will be amazed at the numbers of opportunities that surround you.
But irrespective of the size of the challenge, my advice is that you start from where you are. The size of a key is not usually the same as the size of the door. In other words, the small solution you will come up with may be the answer to a much bigger problem.
I remember when I joined Zinox Technologies Limited in 2011 and was faced with several months of unreconciled bank balances, my first reaction was; there’s got to be a way. In the midst of the inaccurate ledger balances, delayed financial statement, paralyzed debt recovery exercise, missed deadlines, etc, I was determined to find a sustainable method for reconciliation. At first, I was tempted to approach the person I took over from, but realized that whatever he knew couldn’t deliver the expected result. So, I consulted with other colleagues but spotted the downside in their method early, as it would result in distorted individual receivable ledger balances.
As the pressure was mounting I became more determined and focused on a solution that was both easy to understand and time efficient. I approached a very senior officer who suggested an alternative reconciliation method and that was it. I went to work immediately, explained the method to other colleagues and achieved outstanding results.
Your ability to solve problems is critical. As such you must be prepared to challenge the status quo. Below are five steps that can help you to unleash your innovative ability.
Your ability to solve problems is critical, as such you must be prepared to challenge the status quo.
- Identify with your team’s goals and objectives.
There is a huge difference between being in a team and identifying with the team. To identify with a team, you must share the team’s vision, values, goals and objectives. You must see yourself as a stakeholder in the team, someone whose contribution is critical to the overall attainment of the goals irrespective of your position.
- Absorb as much information as possible.
Be in a state of perpetual curiosity. Seek to understand what everyone does in your team. Also seek to understand the needs of the business units and expectations of the management. Questions such as; how does my team contribute to the organisation’s goal, how does my organisation compare to other competitors, what can we do differently to stay ahead of competitors, etc will spur you to shift your focus from work-driven to solution-driven.
- Watch the trend and separate the fixed from the variable.
Interpreting trends require close attention and an open mind. Be observant and seek to understand how your job function has evolved over time. Also expose yourself to emerging trends in your industry both locally and internationally. This will trigger new ideas on how to take your unit to the next level.
- Ask yourself questions such as ‘what can be enhanced or improved upon’ or ‘what can be substituted’.
Here, you have to be able to think outside the box. More accurately, put the box aside and reconstruct the whole process. This is a mental exercise and as with every form of exercise, you get better with practice. You may also consider involving other people who share your passion to participate in this stage. In the illustration I shared earlier, I engaged a more senior officer.
- Take ownership of the new idea and pursue it.
If you made it to this stage then I think you deserve a very big WELL DONE. Your watch word now should be ‘persistence’. You’ve got to hug your idea very closely as you push your way through all forms of barrier to get it to limelight. The world will be grateful you did.
Welcome aboard the flight of innovators!
Abiodun Mamora ACCA is the CFO at Filmo Group