The financial track at ELIA ND was as great as I expected it to be. Yes, you just read “great” and “financial” in the same sentence. Grainne Maycock (Sajan) and Roberto Ganzerli (Ex Arancho Doc) moderated the first day about financial planning and growth. The word of the day was “accountability”. After a very informative mock sales meeting exercise where Grainne showcased her approach to commitment and accountability from the sales team, I was left thinking about a couple of things. Would I do things differently if I had this type of meetings with the team and shared my planning and commitments and be held accountable for it? What would this approach mean to our company, and how do we get buy-in from everyone involved so it does not become a painful exercise?
The second day was more about budgeting and KPI’s. It was surprising to see that we all share many of the same “pains” and that KPI’s for working capital was at the top of the list not only for those on the vendor side but also for those on the client side. This left me thinking about the sheer amount of time I (we) devote to managing cash, and how we tend to place the blame for working capital shortcomings outside the company, overlooking some in-company metrics (like AVG days from completion to invoicing) that we could easily modify for a positive impact. Again, accountability… Why aren’t we focusing on that? Why are we focusing on outside factors rather than on internal ones, which are clearly the low hanging fruit? Is taking responsibility so hard? Have we failed to convey the importance of it to our team?
Probably the answer I was looking for was in something that was brought up in a panel about how a business with a purpose has a better chance to succeed. Why is that? Because the entire team in a company, from the intern to the CEO, can commit and be happy to be held accountable if they believe in their purpose. It is not about you anymore. “Knowing what you have to do” is no longer enough, you have to know WHY. Does a business with a purpose have a better chance to succeed just because it has a better chance of removing the “ego” factor from their employees and shareholders? Maybe. Is it because we all work harder if we CARE? Definitely.
This “purpose” should have an impact on everything, from financial planning and operations to recruitment. But most importantly, that purpose needs to be clear, shared across the company and be the guiding force. A sort of compass that will ultimately make you decide the way to go. Hopefully, in a future ELIA ND for executives event we can discuss purpose. I am not sure how we will manage to benchmark our industry, but I am convinced you cannot commoditize purpose, and that is a start.
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