Rick Wingo is the Director of Finance for Micron in Manassas, VA. Rick, who joined Micron in 2012, took some time to share with us his experiences as the leader of financial training for his company using the Income|Outcome simulation.
Here are the highlights from our exclusive interview with Rick.
Q: What is the greatest benefit from working with Income|Outcome?
A: Unquestionably it’s educating our Operations team. We have no marketing team at our location, so educating Operations wasn’t just about financial principles, but how marketing and operations all work together.
I’d been trying to bring in education pieces on P&L concepts, income statement profiles, and so on. The Income|Outcome simulation did that, but it also tied in the other parts of the business, showing how they all work together to produce profits.
Q: Can you give us an example of a direct result from the training?
A: After we had the curriculum in place, we sat down as a senior team and tried to use the format from Income|Outcome to talk through the earnings details. For many, it was a refresher on the course itself. For others, it was an opportunity to look over our accomplishments during the quarter and profile that against the P&L to determine the contribution.
It gave the group a more practical application of all the metrics we report. We each have our “silos” and do our respective services very well, but until the Income|Outcome orientation, seeing how we fit together as a group wasn’t easy.
Q: Why should CFOs drive training?
A: In past years, when we had earnings announcements, I’d take the team “behind the scenes.” I would show them not just our financial statements, but what the statements meant and how we got there. A lot of the senior finance team, who later participated in the simulation, had that as a background.
But there was never a great understanding of our cash flow in real-time. Income|Outcome helped them understand that when they make a decision, it’s not just about getting a product out the door; it has implications for purchasing, and funding for manufacturing materials, etc.
I was pleased, as the Director of Finance, to have been the one to bring this training to the team.
Here are three reasons why.
1) Building a common language
Most of the group understood terms such as “inventory,” but, for the most part, they were only memorizing financial concepts. The board game helped them understand terms clearly in a real application setting.
Similarly, team members need to understand how and when revenue is recognized. And that the P&L transaction will happen at a different time than the change in cash position.
The simulation provides a common business language across our teams. It helps refine the financial concepts they already know, many of which, even I, as a professional finance person, didn’t grow to appreciate until I was immersed in it through a job outside of school.
Before we started using the simulation, the most pronounced confusion occurred between Finance and Operations. The two respective teams sometimes referred to the same process in two very different ways. But as the two departments visualized concepts together in the board game, a common language began to slowly emerge.
2) Connecting with other team members
One of the most important reasons CFOs should drive training initiatives is that you can realize a greater benefit than the education itself. By heading up a fun, interactive training session, CFOs can personally connect with their everyday colleagues on a different level, as co-players in the game.
For example, the Income|Outcome simulation not only imparts real-world business expertise; it’s also entertaining.
I still have my little gold ‘acuman’ (pictured above) from “winning” a round of the simulation. Every now and then, as a tongue in cheek gesture of camaraderie, I send a picture of it to those on the “losing” side.
(They like to remind me that during the course my group went bankrupt and was granted a capital reinfusion. But hey, even with that minor setback, we still blew the competition away!)
3) Developing a team of effective business people
The main motivation for CFOs to drive training is to develop their employees, transforming them from good Operations staff into effective and well-rounded business professionals.
For example, many companies express the desire to run their Operations department like its own organization, but they don’t train staff properly to do so. Judicious training helps team members to correlate their decisions with the direct financial implications.
I think intellectually, most of the senior team here already understood that, but the game brought it home in simpler terms. As the Director of Finance, my presence was very helpful. I worked alongside the team during the game to help them make a clear connection between their decisions and the bottom line.
I’ve experienced two other simulations before, but I would say that the Income|Outcome model unquestionably conveys the information more easily than the others, especially to a non-financial audience. It was simple, engaging, and extremely educational.
I highly encourage CFOs to get involved in facilitating business acumen training for their teams. In my experience as a financial leader, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Want to learn more about an Income|Outcome workshop? Check it out here!