When Will Two Trains Collide? (an Analytics Story Problem)

Two trains are on the same track 600 miles apart traveling towards each other. One train is traveling west at 50 mph and the other train is traveling east at 20 mph. How long will it take for the trains to impact each other?

8 hours, 30 minutes
8 hours, 34 minutes
8 hours, 42 minutes
The narrow correct answer is #2.

But an experienced analyst thinking out-of-the-box would ask (1) Who would ride on a train traveling 20 mph? and (2) Who would put two trains on a collision course?

Performance Measurement Vs. Performance Management

It’s the 2012 Olympics. How do you think performance is going to be measured at the games by the teams involved? The number of gold medals? The number of world records?

Now come back a few years to when a team is preparing for the games. How is performance going to be managed? You can be sure it won’t be in terms of the number of medals they hope to win.

Instead the focus will be on the type of training being given, the diets being prepared, the way in which equipment and facilities are being used. To ensure these activities can take place, budgets and other resources are allocated to the appropriate activities. In short, the focus is on the process of preparing the athlete and not on the outcomes they hope to achieve.

Now compare this approach to the way in which organizations typically plan and budget.

The Promise and Perils of the Balanced Scorecard

The balanced scorecard, the methodology developed by Drs. Robert S. Kaplan and David Norton, recognizes the shortcoming of executive management’s excessive emphasis on after-the-fact, shortterm financial results. It resolves this myopia and improves organizational performance by shifting attention from financial measures and managing nonfinancial operational measures related to customers; internal processes; and employee innovation, learning, and growth. These influencing measures are reported during the period when sooner reactions can occur. This in turn leads to better financial results.

Treat Finance Talent as an Economic Asset

CFOs are telling pollsters there are problems in the talent pipeline. Why is this occurring? Why are people now so worried about future staffing requirements?

Most importantly, is there an inherent risk for companies who are short on their finance talent?

Author Mary Driscoll interviews Dr. Jonathan Schiff, a professor of accounting (Fairleigh Dickenson) who also happens to be an authority on finance leadership development, skills assessment, and the training program design for large organizations.

Dr. Schiff had three key observations.

Investor Relations for the New CFO – 6 Steps for Success

As the new CFO of a publicly held company, somewhere on your extensive “to do” list is implementing an effective investor relations program.

Whether or not the IR function was a well-oiled machine when you arrived, or virtually non-existent, there are key areas you need to address immediately to ensure that you are effectively taking the IR reins. So here are six steps for success as you accept responsibility for the IR function.

Is Greece the Hardest Working Country in the EU?

ONCE in a while an opinion poll throws up an insight that is very revealing.

Last week it was the Pew Global survey of European countries. Among the usual questions about attitudes to the euro and the European Union, people in eight nations (Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain) were asked which country in the European Union is the hardest-working.

The Greeks ignored the obvious answer (Germany) and instead nominated themselves.