According to new research led by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), 'integrative thinking capabilities,' which encompass a blend of skills, behaviours, and mindset, enable Chief Financial Officers to solve complex multidimensional business problems.
The guide "Integrative Thinking: The Guide to Becoming a Value-Adding CFO" highlights the significant challenges organisations encounter while integrating sustainability into their business models and strategies. Consequently, they encounter an increased demand for sustainability reporting and assurance, necessitating the transformation of processes and systems to support these requirements.
The study underlines the immense responsibility and career-defining challenges CFOs face while addressing multidimensional business problems, characterised by being difficult to define, involving complex systems, challenging to approach, and challenging to determine if the problem has been resolved.
These difficulties are further intensified by constraints in financial, human, and natural resources. Therefore, relying solely on a narrow focus on financial returns for long-term survival and success is inadequate.
Sharon Machado, Head of Sustainable Business at ACCA, said, “the need for CFOs and decision-makers to adopt integrative thinking, considering resource balance and diverse stakeholder needs even when faced with incomplete, complex, uncertain, or ambiguous information. In a fast-changing world, an organisation's purpose and strategy may require incremental or fundamental adjustments. CFOs must act without being able to reliably predict the outcomes.”
Essentials of integrative thinking for CFOs:
- Continually becoming: Constantly evolving by nurturing personal capabilities.
- Empathising: Understanding and appreciating other viewpoints and perspectives.
- Exploring: Fearlessly venturing into unfamiliar territories.
- Co-creating: Seizing opportunities through collaboration with others.
- Empowering: Enabling colleagues and stakeholders to take action.
Raymond Jack, CFO of ACCA, concluded, "This guide is both a call to action and support for all finance professionals as they embrace complicated problems and add value beyond finances to their organisations, society, and the planet. It will help today's and future CFOs serve their purpose better. Being a successful CFO is not a static end-state. Continual learning, reflection, and engagement with others are key to becoming the CFO that organisations and the world need."