The Pinwheel Framework:Separating the great from the good

By Ken Witt

The CGMA Case Study: Aligning strategy, planning and risk processes at MassMutual illustrates what  this Fortune 100, member-owned, life and health provider refers to as their Pinwheel Framework and the steps they have taken to develop and operationalise the Pinwheel to align their enterprise-wide strategy, planning and risk processes.

While MassMutual emerged from the 2008/2009 financial crisis stronger than many peers, that experience convinced the new CEO and board of directors that more formal governance around strategy and risk was needed. Their Strategic and Corporate Development team introduced the Pinwheel Framework that not only aligns the CEO and Executive Leadership process with the Subsidiary and business unit process, but creates a culture that fosters transparency, teamwork and alignment, reaching employees at all levels and increasing the focus on the overall mission and vision of the firm.

The Case Study outlines an eight-step process for implementing the Pinwheel Framework and the management accountant’s role in that process. One of the key elements in the process is to consider external factors such as market forces, regulatory and economic issues and changes to customer buying behavior. Management accountants can also play an important part in aligning and integrating various functions within the organization and to ensure that their version of the Pinwheel is resilient enough to accommodate changes and stresses to the business.

Perhaps the most important role for the management accountant involves the data that ensures effective performance and oversight. As the case study concludes – “translating data into knowledge and wisdom is what separates the great accountants from the good ones.”