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The CFO Alliance Blog

How to Sustain an Innovative Culture

This blog kicks off a series of posts written by May Van, Executive Coach at Kelleher Associates, on the importance of fostering an innovative culture in today's business society. May has a diverse background in accounting and finance management, operations management, business management and leadership development. May spent the last 15 years of her corporate career at Hewlett-Packard and its spin-off, Agilent Technologies, where she held several executive level positions including Vice President of Internal Audit and General Manager of Consumables and Services. May’s strong interpersonal skills, exceptional leadership, and collaborative style have enabled her to lead employees through several challenging and unique business transitions.  These skills and experiences are the building blocks which allow her to successfully counsel clients as they pursue their professional goals.

Many small enterprises lose their innovative culture once they achieve a certain size. It seems that policies, processes, and rules of operating take over and the organization loses some of its creativity and risk-taking. This does not have to happen. Many large companies are known for their ability to innovate. In this series, I will offer a few essential elements to consider in order to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive, including:

  • Where to find innovation
  • How to fund innovation
  • How to nurture an innovative culture

Any enterprise that wants to maintain relevance and continue to grow should look at Blockbuster and Netflix. One did not innovate and is no longer in existence, while the other continues to innovate with technologies and customer preferences.

In summary, it would serve any growing company well to remember the famous quote by Peter Drucker, "Innovate or Die!"

The CFO Alliance's Q3 Roundtable Series, "Making Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Part of the Strategy," will emphasize the responsibility of the CFO in impacting the strategic direction of their businesses given the increasing pressure to build and sustain an innovative culture. Given the critical role of CFOs in setting and executing strategy and managing risks and finance, it is essential that CFOs implement an enterprise risk management process to ensure that they strike the right balance between risk and return.


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