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How to create business order out of chaos

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that business, like life, can be full of surprises. The key is to own the unknowns and create order out of potential chaos, says Gary Dolman

Economic analysis

It is a well-established fact that CFOs don’t like surprises – in their role, there are very rarely nice surprises. For this reason, the CFO can live in constant fear of ‘unknowns’ that may take on different guises. Perhaps the most constant fear for a CFO is whether their version of historical performance reporting contains an unknown error or misstatement – think Patisserie Valerie, for example. It can also be the case that something has happened, unknown to the CFO but well understood by their advisers, that will affect the future (for example, a change in tax regulation). Then there are the future events that will have a significant impact on the business, but for which the CFO has not prepared – so-called ‘unknown unknowns’. COVID-19 is an extreme example.