It was the time of 'Month End' and all the cubicles in the Finance Centre were buzzing with activity. We were just a couple of months into managing the financial process on our own, post the transition to our Center.
The Month End close would determine how we performed during the month. The Management had given us a mandate on our metrics. The mistakes we made would bring their spotlight on us and affect our appraisal. Next in line on my list was the reconciliation of Suspense Accounts- referred to as such because it had unresolved line items. We had to investigate the old items, find how they emerged, connect with the correct partner account, and give due accounting recognition.
That noon, time went too slow. My Entity had the highest number of unresolved items that dated to a few years back. Assimilating information was a challenge because counterparts had moved out. I could not get help. I ended up having more missing links as I thought I got close to answers. I felt frustrated seeing numbers again and again. My colleagues, who were part of the same region handling other units, had completed their work. They asked me for courtesy, whether I would like to join them for a walk on the campus. Our office had a beautiful green campus. My colleague expected me to refuse.
I said I would love to join. My colleague, in disbelief, asked- “ How can you be so casual! You should be at work. If the reconciliation is not done, it will reflect on the whole region. Had I been in your place, I wouldn't have come out of the cubicle, leave alone going for a walk.” I did not quite enjoy what came but was sure that I needed a walk with or without them for company! I replied politely that I will take care.
The walk around the greenery was so invigorating. The breath of fresh cool breeze, physical movement, and getting out of the building rejuvenated me. The line items, month-end close, metrics, the 'whats ifs' were out of my sight and attention.
I came back and started work on my account afresh. Quite effortlessly, I had a flash of solutions I hadn't thought of earlier. What was obscure became clear. The break disrupted my one-directional thinking. I tried the solution that occurred to me and verified that they were right. The line items were sensibly cleared the same evening. I had a sigh of relief! This mode of unplugging and replugging came to my aid in many situations later, where I felt stuck.
Forcing ourselves to be in the thick of the problem when we have to think from a different space can be counter-productive. Newer and creative solutions emerge when we move the problem out of our immediate focus, relegate it background, engage in activities that renew us. The concern seems to be put aside to an onlooker, but that incubation stage is crucial to find a way out of problems. That day, I thus had my 'aha', moments.