As a CFO or business leader, you know that FP&A teams are crucial to the success of your organization.
These forward-looking teams provide valuable insight and support to help your organization make good decisions much faster.
They analyze past, present, and future financial data to identify potential risks and opportunities, as well as provide meaningful insights into your current status. By utilizing storytelling and visual aids, FP&A teams can ensure key financial information is understood clearly.
If you think about it, your FP&A team makes a big difference especially in today’s unpredictable economy. But are you really utilizing these professionals in the best way?
In this article, we’ll discuss how to add the element of creativity to an analytical role and unleash new possibilities and innovation through your FP&A team.
Encourage your FP&A team to think outside the box
The FP&A team plays a critical role in any organization, providing data-driven insights and ensuring optimal usage of resources.
So it's essential to foster an environment where your FP&A team is encouraged to think outside the box in order to develop creative solutions. By giving them the freedom to examine issues from all angles, you will drive real improvements in performance and efficiency. Remember that FP&A isn't just about crunching numbers — it's about seeing how those numbers can be used as a tool for success.
Here’s how you can make it easier for FP&A teams to freely express their innovative thoughts:
Promote collaboration and inclusion
By promoting a culture of collaborative problem solving, you can tap into the creativity of your entire FP&A team. Incentivize your team to work together to brainstorm new ideas and explore different approaches to challenges. This will create an atmosphere where everyone feels included, valued and comfortable sharing their thoughts – which is essential for fostering creative thinking.
Creativity is less about having unusual ideas than actually taking action on the best of those ideas. Make sure your FP&A team has the resources and support they need to experiment with their plans, test out different solutions, and put their ideas into practice. This way, they'll be better equipped to make a real impact and not just “ideate” under pressure, preventing burn out.
Give your team frequent opportunities to be creative
The goal here is to turn creativity into a habit or default mode of thinking, rather than a one-off experiment.
One way to train your FP&A teams to be creative is by implementing special projects or initiatives. These can involve anything from optimizing existing financial models to analyzing cost-cutting opportunities or building a new approvals process.
Encouraging members of the team to take on additional responsibilities and lead innovative projects will help sharpen their skills, promote creativity, and build morale. You could also consider setting up mentorship programs or cross-team collaboration to facilitate idea sharing and increase knowledge exchange between departments.
In addition, providing access to relevant materials such as current research papers, industry news updates, or technical journals will encourage them to stay in touch with the latest developments in the strategic finance world and help inspire new ideas.
By giving your FP&A team regular chances to think outside the box and create unique solutions to problems both large and small, you'll foster an environment of innovation that will benefit the company for years to come.
Projects like this are a win-win with tangible benefits; FP&A teams get the satisfaction of creativity, while the organization gains access to new strategies and possibilities. But it’s important to:
Endorse continuous learning
To maintain your FP&A team’s creative edge, provide them with opportunities for continual growth and development. Invest in training and development courses that allow them to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies, as well as honing their existing skill set.
Encouraging a culture of continuous learning will ensure that your team is prepared to take on new challenges and explore alternative ways of thinking.
Foster a collaborative environment where creativity can flourish
As a finance leader, it can be tricky to foster an environment of collaboration and creativity that empowers each team member equally.
However, a collaborative approach is paramount for creativity to flourish amongst analytical departments. Through working together and tapping into each team member's unique knowledge, experiences, and skill sets, you will be able to create a space where both creativity and productivity can flourish.
Establishing this kind of culture both within the FP&A team and with external departments encourages the end of the comfort zone. Of course, added benefits include improved performance, increased morale, and more effective decision-making.
Start at the very basic level of utilizing tools and software that promotes collaborative work.
Fuel risk-taking and brainstorming sessions
Regular brainstorming sessions should be held in order to come up with creative ideas. This can be done by opening up dialogues among other FP&A teams or managers, debating opposing views and finding solutions that are mutually beneficial.
By allowing room for risk-taking, FP&A teams will find new opportunities that may have been overlooked previously. Not only will this benefit the FP&A team as a whole, but also encourage growth both professionally and personally.
Here are some ways FP&A teams can take more risks and brainstorm together:
- Encourage open discussion and debate – challenge assumptions and explore different angles of a problem
- Create a ‘safe to fail’ environment where it's okay to experiment with new ideas without fear of repercussion
- Establish a feedback loop to track progress and identify areas for improvement
- Promote collaboration across teams by setting up regular meetings or lunch-and-learn sessions
- Offer financial incentives for successful projects or initiatives
- Celebrate small successes to keep motivation levels up
Celebrate your wins and learn from your failures
When attempting to be more creative, it's important to acknowledge and celebrate successes together as a team. You’re acknowledging that each of you stepped outside your comfort zone for more ambiguous and intangible actions.
At the same time, it is equally valuable to learn from your failures, ensure they do not happen again, and utilize those lessons to reach your goals. With that spirit of collaboration and accountability in mind, FP&A teams should strive to engage with their CFO and other leadership to discuss successes and opportunities for improvements.
This way every individual person can take ownership of the team's success—and more importantly, the team remains unified during times of difficulty. Together, FP&A teams and their CFOs should celebrate successes while openly investigating what could have been done differently in failures—all with the goal of setting up their organization for its best performance.
By investing in creativity within your FP&A team, you can unlock hidden potential on your team and create an environment where everyone can flourish. This is the key to creating a successful future for any organization.