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What CFOs Can Learn From Their Apple Watch

On September 1st , I woke up to see my Apple Watch had come up with a new monthly challenge: “This
month, walk or run 442.0 km to earn this award.”

I immediately thought, “what demonic algorithm came up with this target!” I even spent the first week
joking about it with everyone I met – “Hey, guess what everyone, my Apple Watch is either evil or on
mushrooms!” But then I started noticing how my Apple Watch chunked down the absurd challenge into a daily goal - “Average 16.1 km a day for the rest of the month.”

“Hmm interesting, it was 15.8 yesterday,” is what came to mind.

A few Saturdays ago, I did a 22 km hike and the next day I was rewarded when I noticed my Apple Watch
lowered my daily nut -- “Average 15.3km a day for the rest of the month.” For whatever reason, I started focusing on the daily target instead of the highly offensive and totally implausible 442.0 km target.

Today is September 30th. You can probably guess that I wouldn’t be blogging about it if it never came to
pass. Actually, I hit the 442.0 km target yesterday on September 29th. It got me thinking about a few
things that relate to the world of finance and leadership, specifically when referring to the role of the cfo.

1. As CFO, You Must Recall the old riddle:

How do you eat an elephant? Answer - one bite at a time. Big hairy audacious goals become achievable by breaking them down into bite size attainable chunks. Can I walk or run 442.0 km – Hell no! But could I do 14.7 km today? Yeah, that’s doable and the more I did hit that number and on many days a few extra, the smaller the daily nut number became. Momentum and routine is huge when it comes to achieving big goals. Once I started refocusing on the small win of driving down my daily nut, I hardly noticed the kms starting to rack up as I passed 100, 200, 300 and, four days ago, 400 kms.

2. If You Don’t Know Where You Are As CFO, You Can’t Get Where You’re Going:

I was again reminded about how important it is that finance drives performance measurement. In the same way a GPS finds another route every time you make a wrong turn. The faster you re-calibrate the route to the target, the better chance the management team has to adjust course and reach the desired destination. My Apple Watch was constantly re-calibrating and telling me my new daily nut – a number I felt I had control over.

3. This experience reminds me once again of the power of data in finance:

I have no idea what algorithm my Apple Watch uses to set my monthly challenge, but somehow it knew how to stretch me, but not break me. Using data to set targets and not randomly picking a target that was unachievable was probably the key to giving me something that proved to be attainable, even though I didn’t believe it myself until very late in the month. Are your 2022 planning targets driven by data or whim?


As many of us in the Office of the CFO work our way through the annual planning process, think about the targets and keep in mind the impact on motivation, commitment, and attainment. Perhaps the Apple Watch can do more than just keep us exercising.

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