With organisations employing flatter structures, working in agile and flexible ways and needing to continuously embrace change as the outside world becomes more unpredictable, volatile, complicated and ambiguous, the definition of financial acumen has changed and developed to meet these needs.

Yes, it means as it always has, the understanding and reading of company accounts, be it the balance sheet, the profit and loss account and cash flow forecasts. It can also mean the setting and reviewing of budgets for your team, department, project or organisation.

What is also critical is the understanding of costs and the financial impact of decisions. How decisions are made in one part of the organisation can have huge consequences in another part. How when savings are needed to be made, the importance of looking holistically rather than a piecemeal same percentage cut in each area.

Every action and interaction has a cost (direct and/or indirect) attached to it. Every process within the business has a financial impact. It is why in many of the Management and Leadership programmes we have introduced business improvement projects as a method of applying the learning back into the workplace, in a way that delivers a real return on investment for our clients.

Some of the benefits of this approach are that we get learners to think about the costs (in particular the hidden ones) and compare against the savings, or revenue generation. We encourage managers to think about the financial implications of each decision they make and balance this against the other benefits and deliverables.

Financial acumen really is becoming one of the most important skills and mindsets of 21st Century leaders and this is why it holds such high value in the solutions we recommend and develop.

Having said that, financial understanding and commercial acumen is not just about your managers and leaders, it should be the responsibility of everyone within the organisation to be looking at how your processes and procedures can be streamlined or improved to provide not only cost/time savings, but also service improvements for your customers.

This makes it quicker, easier and more pleasurable for them to engage with you.

We believe that truly successful organisations in the future will have an entrepreneurial culture where everyone is responsible for improvement, where all employees are encouraged to be innovative and continuously look for ways to enhance what you already do, as well as exploring potential new revenue streams and services for the future.

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