Unlocking creativity: How CFOs can help cultivate a creative mindset

CFO Insights

In this issue of CFO Insights, we’ll explore the organizational barriers to unleashing the creative capabilities within companies and investigate what CFOs can do to foster a culture of creativity.


Messy. Chaotic. Nonlinear. Such words are typically not used to describe an effective CFO. But those traits, which are often associated with creativity, may be the ones finance leaders should consider nurturing throughout their organizations—all in the name of growth.

It is a concept not lost on their bosses. In fact, in a survey of CEOs across 33 industries and 60 countries, they identified creativity— above rigor, management discipline, or vision—as necessary for leaders to successfully navigate an increasingly complex business environment.

For their part, finance executives—who, for the record, typically tend to be disciplined, predictable, and analytical—play a vital role in fostering that needed creativity. While CFOs aren’t expected to be the originators of breakthrough products or technologies, they can help build organizations where innovative ideas are identified, financed, and delivered. And in an environment where top-line growth is still paramount, those ideas—and the strategic investments needed to execute them—may just be the key to future competitive advantage.

In other words, argues Michael A. Roberto, trustee professor of management at Bryant University and faculty member at Deloitte LLP’s Next Generation CFO Academy, creative thinking should be viewed as a tangible contributor to the bottom line. And in his new book, Unlocking Creativity: How to Solve Any Problem and Make the Best Decisions by Shifting Creative Mindsets (Wiley, January 2019), Roberto outlines the mindsets that can stifle creativity and what it takes to transform them to unleash the creative capabilities within companies.

We’ll explore those organizational barriers in this issue of CFO Insights and investigate what CFOs can do to foster a culture of creativity.

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