Following a Giant

Last week I was out for an early morning walk. I often leave before dark to get in a few miles before the tasks of the day call. This morning the sun had just broken over the horizon. As it rose in the eastern sky it was the perfect angle so that my body cast a really long shadow. Literally it was 300 feet long. As I looked at it I felt extremely fortunate to enjoy that sunrise as well to work with giants in the finance world who cast equally long shadows. They are men who can teach us all so much.

One such giant of a man was my friend, my colleague, my mentor Jeremy Hope. It is with great sadness that I and the other members of the Beyond Budgeting leadership team inform you that the BBRT co-founder, Jeremy Hope, passed away on the evening of 26 September after a relatively short period of severe illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this time.

Jeremy was the catalyst that started this column.

Jeremy was an accomplished man long before I met him. His first two books were coauthored with his brother Tony (Transforming the Bottom Line: Managing Performance With The Real Numbers (London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1995) and Competing in the Third Wave (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 1997)). While speaking at CAM-I's 25th Anniversary Conference he connected with Robin Fraser and later Peter Bunce. They would found the Beyond Budgeting Round Table later that year. Their research led to publishing Beyond Budgeting: How Managers Can Break Free from the Annual Performance Trap (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2003).

During the first five years of BBRT research, Jeremy was an articulate writer in helping develop the BBRT principles. The work clearly benefitted from the outstanding examples of many early pioneers such as Jan Wallander of the Swedish bank Handelsbanken. But it was the passion that Jeremy and Robin Fraser applied that forged the BBRT principles. Peter Bunce took a less visible but just as critical role capturing the knowledge being created and making the organization run smoothly.

To help companies implement and to better understand the mind of CFOs, Jeremy launched a series of CFO interviews that provided great insights into the roles CFOs must play and how they approach problem identification and solving. This led to his fourth book, Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2006). After publishing Reinventing the CFO, Jeremy was off to the next leading edge area. I felt a continuing need to better understand the mind of the CFO so at Jeremy's urging I picked up the role of interviewing CFOs.

I had previously written a column on cost management for the predecessor to Business Finance magazine. They were eager for my CFO interviews that became the Finance Transformation column and hence this blog by the same name.

In reinventing the CFO, Jeremy identified seven distinct roles played by CFOs. They are:

1. The CFO as Freedom Fighter

2. The CFO as Analysts and Advisor

3. The CFO as Architect of Adaptive Management

4. The CFO as Warrior Against Waste

5. The CFO as Master of Measurement

6. The CFO as Regulator of Risk

7. The CFO as Champion of Change

If you can master one or two of these you will have a bright career transforming finance.

Jeremy's current book is The Leader's Dilemma: How to Build an Empowered and Adaptive Organization Without Losing Control (Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2011) which he co-authored with Peter Bunce and Franz Roosli. It is “aimed at leaders who want to change their management cultures and build organizations that will adapt, improve and endure for generations to come.”

It has been my honor to serve as Jeremy's coauthor on his sixth book, Beyond Performance Management: Why, When, and How to Use 40 Tools and Best Practices for Superior Business Performance (to be published by Harvard Business Review Press in February 2012). It is through his writing that Jeremy Hope continues to show us how to transform finance.

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