Harnessing and fostering productive collaboration in and outside the organization.
Many challenges in today’s highly competitive world are complex and require a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach. Yet, organizations face obstacles when it comes to effective collaboration. Numerous factors contribute to this: cultural and behavioral challenges, lack of diversity, misalignment of goals and even conflicting key performance indicators.
Nevertheless, ask any CFO and they will stress the importance of working well together with different functions and forging mutually beneficial partnerships.
The benefits of such partnerships and collaborations cannot be underrated. By fostering collaboration, CFOs can harness ideas, talent and resources, from within their teams as well as from other functions to solve business problems. Good ideas can come from anyone in any function, not just the innovation or R&D teams. Neither do they have to originate only from within the organization.
Internal partnerships, collaboration tools
Given their broad remits, CFOs are well-placed to take a lead in driving collaboration across the organization and beyond. They are no longer just financial gatekeepers; CFOs today have far greater organizational clout and responsibilities than before.
When managing teams, especially geographically distributed employees, having a real-time information matrix will help CFOs better manage risks and improve financial reporting. CFOs who have embraced collaboration tools such as cloud services, social media platforms and other app-based solutions facilitate timely engagement with team members, stay up-to-date with the latest internal and external developments, and respond quickly to critical business signals. It also dramatically improves the quality and speed of financial reporting.
Besides their own teams, CFOs are also increasingly working in close partnership with other members of the C-suite, such as the chief human resources officers (CHROs), chief information officers (CIOs) and chief marketing officers (CMOs). This helps CFOs align with them on business objectives, including revenue growth and profit margins. By including financial metrics during strategy planning, it helps the C-suite to focus on long-term strategic goals and CFOs to pre-empt trouble before it appears in the financial statements. CFOs can also help steer their organizations to be at the vanguard of innovation, customer-centricity, and overall financial success.
Partnering with external stakeholders
Collaboration is sometimes seen as a dirty word, misused regularly in the modern business environment. Collaboration does not mean compromise. On the contrary, it is creating win-win situations, rather than situations where there is one clear winner and everyone else loses.
With changing economic models and digital disruptions in the market place, it is important for CFOs to stay ahead of the curve. Collaborating with other companies becomes more crucial than ever, and is gradually recognized as an effective response to the increased scale and complexity of business problems. By working in partnership with other organizations, companies can solve problems that alone would be too difficult. At the same time, it also helps to drive innovation, efficiency, growth and shared value.
Silicon Valley is an example of how organizations in different industries or stage of growth can benefit each party through collaboration. The thriving entrepreneurial culture exists because of the extensive cross-pollination of ideas between individuals and companies. There is greater diversity of ideas when people with varied experiences gather together to solve a problem and when companies collaborate while concurrently competing.
To stay ahead, CFOs will need to look at fostering productive collaboration thoughtfully within and outside of their organizations.