“If we don't have to know it all, what we really need to do is ask more questions and ask better questions”
Finance business partners, do you need to know it all?
No, you don't.
But you do need one very important skill; it's something that I've doubled down on.
Back when I was working in finance transformation, I was working on the executive dashboard and we had to get agreements on what was going to go into each of the different sections.
It seemed like quite the task.
When we were dealing with all the stakeholders and trying to get things right, I felt a lot of pressure to get the right things on the dashboard.
Doing it differently
But then, we got a new project lead and he had come from one of the big four audit firms.
He just operated in a different fashion.
He was used to being a consultant. And what he did was, when we talked to each of the stakeholders, he wasn't trying to come up with all the right answers.
Questions or Answers?
He was documenting what each of them wanted, he would question appropriately, with the business and financial acumen that he had, and then take it back to the C-suite stakeholders for them to agree.
It wasn't his job to get the agreement, because he wasn't the end user of it.
And it was just such a revelation.
It was like “oh! I don't have to know it all?”
No, his job was to be a consultant, to partner, to business partner, to bring each of the sections together for them to agree on what was going to drive the business forward for them.
It was essentially facilitation.
And it just made things so clear on what the role is of finance.
You know, we are there to partnerand help everybody. We don't need to know all the answers.
So if we don't have to know it all, what we really need to do is ask more questions and ask betterquestions.
I want to give you one question that I love to ask. You can ask your partners, your business partners this:
“If you're saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”
The example of an executive dashboard might be, when you're putting these KPIs on, what KPIs are you leaving off?
Then you can finally decide if the yes ones are really more important than the ones you're saying no to.
So folks, I would love to know, do you feel like you have to know it all, as a finance business partner? Or are there other beautiful questions that you love to ask?