How Deloitte drives revenue through innovation

Alec Bashinsky, CHRO and national partner of people & performance for Deloitte, says the firm has taken an unorthodox but multifaceted and effective approach to innovation

Innovation has been a strong focus for Deloitte in its ongoing growth, according to its CHRO and national partner of people & performance, Alec Bashinsky, who said the firm has taken an unorthodox but multifaceted and effective approach in the process.

Internally, it runs an innovation council, and any employee is able to put forward any idea which is then reviewed by the council.

If it has merit, $10,000 of micro funding is provided to scope out and develop the idea, said Bashinsky, who adds that Deloitte also runs “innovation cafés” for select clients.

“We’ve made a lot of changes around our internal offerings, products and services, and we also pass that information on to clients,” he said.

Locally, Deloitte has experienced a number of successes with “design thinking” (a process of thinking similar to that employed by designers during the process of designing) and improved innovation, and other member firms of Deloitte globally are taking this up and slowly moving to that concept of design thinking, he added.

Another local innovation taken up internationally has been “growth staircases” (which articulate the key capabilities that each business cluster must develop, as well as setting out a sequence for broadening and deepening these capabilities).

“We’ve really shown how innovative and capable the Australian firm has been over the past five years, and our global colleagues have watched us with interest.

“About 10 years ago our revenue was close to $400 million, but now we’re sitting at about $1.12 billion – so you’ve got to be doing some things right to drive revenue – which is the outcome we’re seeking,” he said.

Innovation in HR has also been a focus for Bashinsky, who runs six innovation teams internally to build the capability of the HR team in order to work more closely with the business and deliver people strategies that will realise business goals and improve innovation.

“So one team might get involved in a business project group and help work on hard business issues, while another might focus on shaping the workforce of the future, where they get to research, recommend and implement national changes to our talent strategy,” he said.

Reinventing performance management
A recent Bersin by Deloitte research report found that many leading organisations are moving away from viewing performance management as a once-a-year event where employees are assessed and evaluated, to a series of ongoing activities that include goal setting and revising, managing and coaching, development planning, and rewarding and recognition.

The report found that continuous coaching is becoming increasingly important, as employees want to receive individual feedback and feel valued by their organisations for their unique contributions.

Deloitte is piloting a new approach across some of its business, which is based on a four-step process involving weekly or fortnightly 10- to 15-minute check-ins with immediate managers.

“The focus of these conversations is less about ‘here are your four KPIs and tell me what you’ve hit or missed’, and more about ‘how are you going, how can I help you, what are you struggling with and what do you need from me to improve?’. So it’s a very short, regular talent conversation,” said Bashinsky.

To support this, leaders also send out a short online employee pulse survey to their individual teams to assess the engagement levels of each team member anonymously.

Performance snapshots are also conducted quarterly via technology, and these assess how individuals are tracking on particular projects and against particular targets, and Deloitte also conducts a quarterly talent review which focuses on high potentials, women of future leaders in the firm.

“So what we’re trying to do is create more regular conversations and provide more regular feedback, and through this, determine how the employee is performing and they will also know how they are performing.

“We aggregate all this feedback so we can see whether someone is a high performer or someone who needs more coaching,” said Bashinsky.

“So we’re not using ratings, but the idea is to get away from ratings, distribution curves and batch data and instead provide real-time feedback to develop the 95 per cent of our people who are terrific, versus the 5 per cent who aren’t performing – which is the reverse of what most performance management systems and rating systems are geared to do.

“That’s a real cultural shift.”

For the full interview with Bashinsky and story on how Deloitte has tripled its revenues through a strong focus on leadership, people and performance, see the next issue of Inside HR. Image: Scott Ehler