Do You Speak the Same Language as Your Budget Owners?


Pre-boarding Selfie

I recently visited a client in Tokyo which was an interesting and exciting experience.  I have traveled extensively through Asia in the past and have worked abroad in my career, but had never been to Japan.  I was visiting Wacom, the world’s leading manufacturer of pen tablets, interactive pen displays and digital interface solutions.  Before I continue, I would like to express my gratitude to my hosts, Usuda-san, Okino-san, and Hattori-san, who made the trip both memorable and productive.

Traveling internationally has its challenges – different currencies, cultures, and most importantly, languages.  These challenges make travel a thrilling experience, but can also make it daunting.  I consider myself a seasoned traveler but every time I set foot in a new country, I’m presented with a new test of my cross-cultural capabilities.  I had a lot of time on the flight home (14 hours to be exact) to reflect on this and think there are some applicable lessons from this trip that can be applied to the budget process, particularly around the topic of language and communication.

To set the stage, I can speak exactly two phrases in Japanese (hello and thank you) so throughout my visit I had to figure out how to communicate effectively.  It got me thinking about how many of the business leaders we in finance interact with on a regular basis regarding budgets, projections, and analyses. Do they feel excluded when we talk in purely financial terms?  We perceive these concepts as obvious, but then again we speak the language of finance.  For us, the concepts and jargon are second nature.  But it raises the question, “Do we speak the same language as our budget owners?”

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