Why is the finance department so powerful? Does it bring in clients? No. Does it invent new products? No. Does it produce revenue? No. In fact, to every business, the finance team is a cost. Still, it has the CEO’s ear. Why? Because finance leaders create something incredibly powerful: transparency.
Who has this week’s highest sales? Who’s overspending the budget? Who’s ahead of plan? Finance knows. And that’s why, when finance calls, every CEO listens.
The power of finance holds important lessons for change leaders. Making improvements happen can be tough though, whether it’s customer service, IT tools, HR processes. And often you won’t have the power to drive change on your own.
Learn from finance. Use the power of transparency. Imagine you want to improve the customer experience. What if, each month, you could put a simple chart in front of the CEO showing how customers rate every department, every touchpoint, every product of your firm? In the top left corner, those who get the highest ratings. In the middle, those who do ‘okay’. In the bottom right-hand corner, those with the poorest customer ratings. Would your CEO want to see this chart? You bet. Would such a chart give you power? You bet. Why? Because no department leader wants to stay in the bottom right-hand corner.
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To make change happen, shed light on the issue. Measure customer feedback, costs, time wasted – whatever your currency is. Make sure your data is solid. Praise those in the top left corner who are doing well; no need to shame those in the bottom right-hand corner – the chart will do it for you.
(From my Marketing Week column)