Marie Kondo first came to worldwide fame after launching “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” in 2011. The book clearly struck a chord: it immediately flew off the shelves in bookstores across the globe, becoming a best seller. But her methods don't just apply to the household, according to Debbie Green.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the KonMari approach revolves around the notion that we should throw away anything from our homes that is not bringing us joy. Building on her success, Kondo is now wowing Netflix audiences with her TV show – and has encouraged even more people to embrace her technique. Whether wowed by Kondo’s principles or not, there’s a motto here that should strike a chord with business leaders and employees alike: how do I eradicate anything from my day that doesn’t bring me joy?
CFOs and finance teams can learn a lot from the KonMari tidying principles. There are so many jobs in the finance function that don’t bring the team much happiness. One solution is automation: we should be passing over jobs that don’t give us joy to a machine that’s perfectly capable of doing it. But how to make sure the right jobs are being automated?
These KonMari-inspired steps can help finance teams maximise their productivity at work:
Trust the approach
The first step to the KonMari method is to be dedicated. The process might feel long, but committing will make it better in time.
Undergoing a change like this without being knocked off course by obstacles requires the CFO to lead the charge. Kondo asks the people she helps to imagine their perfect lifestyles as they make the change. That can help here too. If staff understand the ideal outcomes from automating tasks – namely that they no longer need to deal with these tedious and time-consuming tasks – then they become more motivated to make them happen. And that will create a “more joyful” team – or certainly one that’s freed up and fired up to focus on the more strategic, interesting parts of their jobs.
Where to begin with what needs automating? Kondo says to look at each item in its own right and then make a decision to discard it or not based on the joy we feel.
Many jobs within finance don’t make the team happy – but they’re critical to the running of the business. Payroll, for example, might be time-consuming and boring for the finance team, but it needs to happen to make sure staff get paid!
The easiest way to eliminate these jobs for the team while making sure they happen is to automate them. Staff get paid at the end of the month, while the finance team is free to pursue activities that brings it joy and allows innovation. That might be analysing data to give strategic guidance to the CEO, it could mean predicting a market change, or it could even mean identifying new directions for the business to grow in.
Storing things correctly
Marie Kondo emphasises that you need to put your possessions away so that they’re all visible. We think a business should therefore see their ERPM as an easily accessible drawer – where you can easily access business information at any time. Finance teams are some of the few within a business who have access to all the data – especially since heightened regulation with GDPR. If everything is readily accessible in this ‘drawer’, then they can see what is happening across the organisation and act accordingly. But this only works if they’ve followed steps one and two, and have freed up space in their routine to find the time to do this!
KonMari might show people how they can achieve a streamlined approach for a happy home environment, but there’s no reason why finance teams can’t abide by the same principle to create a happy work environment. With automation technologies, the time is now for CFOs and their departments to think which processes are sucking up valuable staff time and attention. Taking action now to remove them means far more ‘joy’ – and the added benefit of becoming a more strategic workforce.
About Debbie Green
Debbie Green is an executive vice president at Oracle.