Financial people can also be innovative!


Among the beliefs around innovation, there is that innovation is reserved for certain professions: R&D, marketing… but today innovation is becoming a skill to be integrated into all professions. And if we ask ourselves the question of the ability of CFOs to innovate, it is only necessary to look at the example of Jeff Bezos, whose career as a financial data analyst has enabled him to become one of the men the richest in the world! A fine example of the application of innovation to finance, which you will find detailed in my book “Knowledge-Innovation, the innovation attitude to adapt to the changing world” (*) and of which I give you some keys in this article.


1) How are CFOs affected by know-how to innovate?

All professions are impacted by the state of transition we live in to deal with increased complexity and uncertainty. Financiers, like other professions, must adapt to the new economic, regulatory and environmental situation… In the study (**) that I conducted at the end of 2021 with 100 managers, 92% declared that innovation was key to facing the challenges of the new world.

The art of innovation is that of adapting, of taking advantage of situations, of seeing opportunities where others see threats. Like Jeff Bezos who made a bookstore the largest grocery store in the world by developing Amazon, which today capitalizes at nearly 1000 billion dollars.


2) What is the role of the DAF in the innovation process

Exercising a sovereign function, such as the HRD, the DAF has the power to grant or not resources, financial and often also human, within the framework of the follow-up of FTEs as KPIs. The contribution of the DAF is therefore essential for the implementation of the projects and their execution.

But their contribution can go beyond the framework of budget and staff allocation, to move towards a role of active contributor to the analysis stages: the upstream stage of the clarification of the problem which requires a quantified vision of the forecasts, and at the step of solutions through a pragmatic approach to feasibility.

They can also contribute through new ways of approaching the financing of new projects through new business models and new ways of raising funds.


3) How to help CFOs to develop their know-how to innovate?

As I explain in detail in my book, there are 6 conditions for developing your innovation skills. The CFO must submit to it if he wishes to free his flow and be exemplary in this area: first of all to really want to, then to evolve in a cultural environment that will if not help him at least not prevent it, give yourself time, regular moments, one or more places and rituals that will inspire her, train regularly and why not, get support to stay in her line of responsibility.


4) How can CFOs be helped to develop the collective intelligence of their teams?

If the CFO is himself exemplary, the teams will follow because “creativity is contagious” according to Einstein who is an absolute model.

However, a few conditions will facilitate the expression of the collective flow: the motivation of the team which goes hand in hand with the sharing of a common sense, collective rules of life favoring risk-taking, the recognition of ideas, and creating appointments to allow finance teams, as Einstein would say, to “train their intelligence to have fun”!