Is Creativity the role of the CFO? [Food for thought]

The value of creativity

Creativity, innovation, and ingenuity are some of the most commonly listed company values. Very often these words mean absolutely nothing to the people that they are meant to inspire.  Although these words are listed with the best of intentions, more often those with the responsibility of leading an organization simply don’t know how to cascade these values and demonstrate how they can really add value and help companies achieve their missions and goals.


People are faced with opportunities to be creative all the time. They are generally faced with two types of opportunities, those that are imposed or those that are initiated. The imposed could involve being asked to develop a financial model that tests a commercial plan or to devise an equity structure that satisfies all investor needs. The initiated are those that challenge the status-quo and are about doing things in a way that they have ever been done before. These are the efforts that can create real value, but instead often go unnoticed or are not even mentioned, out of fear of acceptance and lack of confidence.


Ultimately, it’s really the responsibility of all the company leaders to create a culture that encourages and cultivates innovation capabilities. To take it a step further this article by Dr. Ralph Kerle, who was named by IBM as one of the world’s 100 Global Creative Leaders, points out that another critical reason why creativity fails is the lack of involving the Finance leaders. In the article, “Why the Chief Financial Officer must Lead Organizational Innovation”, Dr. Kerle provides some practical examples and insight on how and why a CFO should get involved. Read the article originally published on The Management Innovation Index, here

The creative movement

As a finance professional who advocates creativity, I couldn't agree more that the CFO should lead creative initiatives. I don't mean that the CFO should take over the traditionally creative roles such as Marketing or Product development , however the CFO should share collaborate leadership with these very important roles. By thinking outside the balance sheet the finance function is well positioned to play a role in emphasizing and driving value derived from other activities of the business such IT, Human resources Marketing and even help set, measure and monitor performance. The Finance mindset can bring about a what-if and value-driven approach to decision making. I've noticed that many SME owners don't understand the value that Finance can bring to a creative discussion and very often still view the role of the finance function in a traditional way, doing typical accounting activities. I strongly believe that companies that recognise the value to be derived from expanding the role of Finance, stand to position themselves well for a successful future.