Yesterday I was at the Chicago Booth Management Conference. In typical Booth fashion there was some socializing but they always have break out sessions with some “rigorous inquiry”. I went to a session on CFO Perspectives which was interesting. There were three CFO’s there. One of them was from a major public company. One was from a non-profit that handles very sensitive data. The other was from a for profit company that was middle market and did a lot of technical research and development in biomedicine.
One thing each of them said was that they looked forward to more automation of commoditized tasks. The reason they did was that they felt they were paying too much for talented people to undertake those tasks when those people could be redirected to critical things like analysis and strategy. Robots, Machine Learning and AI didn’t scare them. They were ready to embrace them.
In the Q+A I was able to ask a question. I asked, “What’s the biggest pain point you have in the process of doing your job. What keeps you up at night when you think about processes?”
I thought they might tell me they wished there was something that reconciled books better. Instead, they talked about communication. I was a little surprised. Communication is always hard. It always will be. Just take a minute and think about the old “telephone game” we played as kids.
The answer was sort of amazing when we think about all the ways we can communicate these days. However, that has only made the job tougher since mediums are fragmented. Later I was speaking with someone that told me their firm monitors employee Facebook pages to make sure they aren’t doing anything to reflect badly on the company.
If we want people to be empowered in their jobs, they need information. Communicating that information to them so that they understand how to relay it to the outside world is critical. A communication mistake can take a very long time and can use up valuable resources to clean up.
Even when you think you have it nailed, communication is difficult.