FINANCE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL (& UGLY)

5 Ways That Good Design Principles Can Apply to Finance. 

Because finance undoubtedly relies on a decent level of numeracy skills, people like to think of it as being an “objective” function. I am not convinced. Great financial management has always required large doses of competence in softer skills: arguably more with the machines taking over the calculations. One of these softer skills is, I think, design. Those leading and shaping finance functions need to apply good design principles if they want to excel. Here is my take on 5 ways that good design principles can be applied to running a finance function.

  1. Good design is obvious. We feel it. We all know when we enter a well-designed building or use a perfectly designed tool. The same is true of a finance function. It is clear immediately when we work in or with a finance function that is well designed: it is clearly a good fit for its purpose and in harmony with its surroundings. It is equally obvious when it is not.
  1. Well designed objects fit their environment beautifully. The environment for a finance function is different for every organisation. The function needs to be adapted to fit what is around it: the risks, requirements and contribution from other functions in the organisation. Good fit can be beautiful; poor fit is ugly.
  1. Good design has a clear purpose. Beautifully designed objects don’t just look good, they have a clear function. The same is true of a well designed finance function: it’s reason for existing is clear to all who work in it or with it.
  1. Good design takes time. Although beautifully simple design can look like it has arrived in an instant, the reality is that the look, feel and fit have been honed over years, either with this object or its predecessors, with bits being added and taken away so that it gradually begins to match its purpose perfectly.
  1. Simplicity is best. Tinkering over years can lead to unnecessary complexity being introduced. Well-designed objects and activities cut through this complexity and focus on the essentials. They don’t cut too much away, however. As Einstein said “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

Get in touch if you would like help with improving your finance function.