Focus: Finance and Governance - Outlook - Think of yourself as Bob the Builder

Recently, an acquaintance of mine likened me to a bulldozer. Better that than the back end of a bus, I thought, but the comment wasn't entirely uncomplimentary.

It occurred to me that, when it comes to managing change or problem solving, the role of a charity finance director is not unlike that of Bob the Builder, with whom all parents of small children will be acquainted.

However, there are times when only a bulldozer can get the job done.

The real skill is not simply in knowing how to use each tool or item of available machinery, but rather in recognising which is the most appropriate.

For those readers who have attempted to use a chisel to strip wallpaper (maybe that's just me), this will surely strike a chord of recognition.

A 'softly softly' approach is not inappropriate where there is low resistance to change, but there are times when only a sledgehammer will suffice.

For that, I offer no apologies.

Consider the barrier you are trying to eradicate. Is it real or a figment of the imagination? Does it exist at all? If it does, has the passage of time seen why and how it exists forgotten? In that case, you might well discover that all that is actually required to achieve change is a gentle nudge - no one may have leant on that fence in years.

With more complex legal or technical issues, it often pays to 'revisit the manual' so that, armed with a pair of (metaphorical) sharp wire cutters, the pressure can be released with a single, short sharp snip.

In the same way that Bob the Builder always appears to be one step ahead of his business partner, Wendy, even though both have access to the same yard equipment, so we too must emulate Bob in choosing wisely when solving problems or managing change.

It's a jungle out there and the king - or queen - is not necessarily the one with the biggest machete.

Some finance directors have been highly skilled at getting the desired results by deploying the right approach with the right people at the right time.

Conversely, there have been others who have been rather less effective, even though they might have understood the need and proposed a reasonable solution. Here, they might have conducted themselves and communicated in a manner that led ultimately, and inevitably, to the failure of their planned objectives.

So, when you are confronted with that 5pm bombshell late next Friday, think very carefully as you open up your toolkit - and be sure to select your implement most wisely.


- When managing change or solving problems, charity finance directors are a lot like Bob the Builder

- The skill is not only in knowing how to use your available tools, but also in recognising which is the most appropriate

- Those who have enjoyed the most success are those who have deployed the right approach and the right people.

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