It’s maddening, right? We’ve all been there. Every time you answer a question, another one is immediately fired back. Thankfully, my two sons have grown out of that stage. I, however, have not. If you were to ask me to list the traits of a great FP&A practitioner, Intellectual Curiosity would be at the top of the list. Without that, you simply become a task doer. While “doers” fill a very important role, your entire FP&A team cannot be filled with them.
Intellectual curiosity is what drives you to follow an issue all the way back to its root cause. It is this relentless search for the root cause that will make you successful. Without asking questions, how will you understand the intent behind what you are working on? Without asking questions, how do learn the cradle to grave process? Once armed with the intent and the current process, you are equipped to create and drive change.
Intellectual curiosity is the catalyst for many topics that I have already written about in this series:
- Challenging the Status Quo
- Process Improvement
- Being a Change Agent
- Partnering with shared services and other departments
- Uncovering the root cause
Each day, I make it a priority to not only focus on my job responsibilities, but also on the up- and down-stream impacts of them. The key to providing value is to understand how you can impact the end result and improve the process. Without asking questions, you will not achieve that. I attribute much of my FP&A success thus far to my drive and intellectual curiosity. Don’t just blindly do. There is a time and place for that, yes. But once the immediate deliverable is completed, circle back and ask, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”