A House Divided

When I was the CFO of a well-known California food company, a sales executive transferred to the corporate office after the company consolidated the location in which he had been working. Spotting him outside the front door early one morning, I took the opportunity to join him and get better acquainted.

After joking about the almost clichéd cars in the executive parking area (he, the sales VP, drove a BMW convertible; I, the CFO, drove a sensible Toyota sedan; the VP-Operations drove a 4x4 truck), the conversation turned to the roles of finance and sales & marketing and the fact that the two sometimes bumped heads. “Well,” I told him “the way I see it you’re here to lead a parade and my job is to find a parade to rain on. We need each other.”

Like all good jokes that might have an element of truth to it, but does it have to? I didn’t think so and neither did my new friend, who is now CEO of that company. The best functioning companies know that every discipline is critical to their overall success.

I have a finance background and am a Certified Public Accountant but I firmly believe that business success starts with marketing: if you can’t sell something there’s no point in building it and nothing to account for. But you also need to satisfy your consumer, deliver on time, manage and finance your business, and so on. (Even the sales guys want to be paid, the only use some have for accountants – especially those who really do look for parades to rain on). Enterprising spirits might have found a way to sell water but no one can sell thin air; you also have to produce, deliver, and keep your business running.

Life’s instruction manual tells us “Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” (1 Corinthians 12 15-17) Good open training can help bridge gaps between business functions, encourage them to understand each other’s value, and most importantly help them become one business “body.” We’ve worked with companies to help integrate functions toward common goals – and we don’t mean falling backwards into arms of people who get winded running to catch an elevator. Real teamwork comes from respect, mutual goals, and a common strategy.

About the Author

+Brent Morrison is managing principal at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Brent directly at bmorrison@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 202.

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